James Morrison is a man of many talents, being a leader, promoter, composer and multi-instrumentalist. James plays trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, saxophones and keyboards in a most competent manner. His trumpet and trombone efforts are extraordinary.
This three CD set exhibits the Morrison groups in a trilogy of jazz styles including "Hot Jazz", "Swing" and "Cool" covering each period on a separate CD.
The "Hot" disk is a tribute to Louis Armstrong and was recorded live in March 1998 at the Taronga Park Zoo near Sydney. It incorporates Armstrong's early work and some of his later hits such as What a Wonderful World and Mack The Knife. The "trad" group does not forget the Aussie penchant for the drummer's use of wood blocks. The bands of Graeme Bell and Ade Monsbourgh used this trademark in the 40s and 50s as did the rough and ready Port Jackson Jazzband.
The "Swing" disk draws a couple of small groups from within the James Morrison Big Band with only one aim in mind - "swing like hell." They succeed in every way rendering such gems as St. Louis Blues, Exactly Like You, On The Sunny Side Of The Street and the fabulous Road To Gundagai featuring the leader on piano. Morrison absolutely shines with is trumpet solo on S'Wonderful. Emma Pask joins the group for a few nice vocals. I love Emma's work at any time and she fits into this format like a glove.
The "Cool" disk was a special treat to my ears. The James Morrison composition "Emtage" forces the listener to imagine the Modern Jazz Quartet playing a J.S. Bach piece as only they could. Glen Henrich is outstanding on vibes with Jonathan Swartz on bass sounding like Percy Heath. Other tunes on the cool disk are Misty, One Note Samba, If You Could Come To Me and another Morrison original titled Essence.
For those readers who are looking for an introduction to the Australian sound, this boxed set is a very good bet.