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Dick Morrissey

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The high technical standards that Tubby Hayes had achieved by the late 1950s affected a younger generation of British jazz saxophonists, which rose to prominence as the 1960s dawned.

Tenorists Dick Morrissey and Stan Robinson directly reflected Hayes’ immaculate dexterity and broad forthright tone, and were perhaps the last British tenor saxophonists to be hailed as major talents while still favouring, initially at least, little more than consolidation of work by the then current American heroes. Morrissey’s debut album It’s Morrissey, Man!!, from 1961, is a thoroughly convincing slice of hard bop artistry, over which the shadow of Hayes and the Jazz Couriers, as much as that or Rollins, Griffin, Mobley and Zoot Sims, loom large. Morrissey differed from the previous generation of British saxophonists with his affinity to the blues, the same unlikely affinity which was then affecting other English musicians of a similar age in other fields of music, from Eric Clapton to Georgie Fame to the Rolling Stones. An early indication of this was the 1966 LP that vocalist Jimmy Witherspoon cut with Morrissey’s quartet.

Both Morrissey and Robinson worked with the pop group The Animals on a special big band project during the mid-1960s, and Robinson toured with various ‘beat’ groups before returning to jazz. It was Morrissey however who took the bolder step of pursuing funk and soul during the 1970s, first with If and the Average White Band, and then a group co-led with guitarist Jim Mullen.

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