The Kid from Bristol is doing OK. Actually, when you can call in Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis and Andy Sheppard among others to help with your album, I reckon that is better than OK.
Morton made a strong showing as a teenager on the South West England scene before being mentored by Sheppard and then finding himself in the company of former JB tenor man Pee Wee Ellis. Strong connections with The Herbaliser have paid off as well.
The alto saxophonist serves up the kind of James Brown-influenced funk that you’d expect (Do Dat, Stand Up, Step Up) and some gospel-tinged soul (Eyelets, The Hymn) but there is also some pop swing (By The Way), a jazzier duet (If They Only Knew, featuring Andy Sheppard) and a soulful ballad (Trouble).
Morton has that art of making his saxophone an extension of a personal voice – you can almost hear lyrics even though there aren’t any – with phrasing and articulation that are very like language. He has said: “There’s something that I hear that I want to be in the universe, and the saxophone is a channel for that. I supposed I’ve listened to a lot of singers. But, really, I just wanted to play like Maceo Parker.”
I think he’s getting to the point where he has achieved something more important – he plays like James Morton.
Categories: CD review