Many jazz aficionados remember Butch Morris’ cornet playing from his work with saxophone legend David Murray, appearing on such seminal recordings as Flowers for Albert, Let the Music Take You and The London Concert. However, it is his work as a conductor that was being celebrated during Black History month. Every Tuesday evening in February at 7:00pm the Knitting Factory in NYC presented BLACK FEBRUARY: 20 Years of Conduction - BUTCH MORRIS Conducts Band Big. On February 8, Band Big featured an eclectic mix of musicians and instruments. Ten horn players joined two drummers and two bassists. Featured instruments included the baritone saxophone and the bass clarinet.
My overall impressions were that Butch was extremely creative and masterful as a conductor. His use of different elements, including volume and musical direction, meant the listener was engaged throughout the performance. An amazing musician, Morris’ Band Big gives him an opportunity to showcase a larger vision of his musical dream.
The first set included two selections. The second number in the first set featured the cornet work of Graham Haynes. His mood-altering sound was reminiscent of Miles’ balled work on Flamenco Sketches. Set against the music of Band Big, these haunting tones had different meaning and evoked different feelings. The second set featured two extended numbers followed by two brief selections to close out the evening.