The most immediately striking thing about Dick Morrissey’s tenor playing is its tremendous swing. It is no exaggeration to say that the music on this record swings as much as any British jazz ever did. The fact that Morrissey shows no great originality (a point which Benny Green makes at length in his liner note) is of comparatively little importance; the way he approaches a tune is particularly impressive, and brings to mind Johnny Griffin. Morrissey is young, and will undoubtedly develop his own musical personality. His playing already has an impressive aura of conviction and assurance.
With the exception of “Willow”, which features Jones and the rhythm section, all the tracks have lengthy solos by Morrissey, brief solos by Jones, and sometimes bass or drums. Morrissey is well able to sustain interest over several choruses, and builds his solos excellently. Jones is far less impressive, and his solos are almost invariably an anticlimax. Cecil and Barnes work together well, and provide a driving beat.
Morrissey is undoubtedly one of the best British musicians to appear in good many years, and Fontana deserve to be congratulated on their courage in recording such a relative unknown.
St. Thomas; Cherry Blue; A Bench In The Park; Sancticity; Mildew; Puffins! Billv (21 min) – Gurney Was Here: Happy Feet; Where Is Love; Dancing In The Dark: Willow, Weep For Me; Jellyroll (21 min)
Dick Morrissey (ten); Stan Jones (p); Malcolm Cecil (bs); Colin Barnes (d).
(Fontana STFL 568 12inLP 37s. 2d.)