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James Morton - saxophonist who has worked with the likes of Andy Sheppard and Pee Wee Ellis.  Nick interviews James in May 2010 during the soundcheck for the launch of his new album at The Croft in Bristol.

 

Nick Langston with an exclusive interview with critically-acclaimed saxophonist James Morton.

 

 

It’s the day of James Morton’s album launch in Bristol . I wander into The Croft in the Stokes Croft part of town at around about the same time as James and the band begin setting up for their soundcheck.

 

“15 minutes, Nick,” says James, “just got to sort some stuff out.”

 

He’s looking very relaxed for what is going to be a relatively important gig in the town where he learnt his trade and for an audience which will probably include half of Bristol ’s musical community. His new album showcases the cool funk grooves that he is known for and he’s clearly excited about it.  I ask him about his influences and he talks enthusiastically about what he learned from international Bristol-based saxophonist Andy Sheppard and his current work with Pee Wee Ellis (James Brown’s saxophonist).

 

“60s, groove, R&B jazz,” seems to be what he’s into and he isn’t interested in narrow definitions of music.

 

“It’s all blues, it’s all based on three chords,” he says, making his music seem infinitely simpler than it really is.  But for anyone who’s heard his tight melodies sailing into energetic solos will know that this is a technically-proficient musician who, as he admits himself, works hard at what he does.

 

“You’ve got to practice, sometimes 8 hours a day,” he says, “and listen to all sort of music.”  He laughs. “I was told once that you shouldn’t borrow music cos you have to give it back.  You’ve got to steal it, keep it and make it your own.”

 

He talks like he plays, full of energy and enthusiasm and later that evening, as soon as the drums kick in, he delivers a cool-funk-groove set which delivers everything he promises with cool Hammond sounds, funky guitar, tight arrangements and James blowing his chops off.