Phil Morris, trumpeter and occasional pianist, died yesterday in Barrow-in-Furness General Hospital at the age of 79 after a mercifully brief struggle with cancer. He was a fine trumpet player, a good singer, and a very nice man. His contribution to jazz in Cumbria was enormous, starting with the High Cross Band in the 70s, then continuing with Jazz Society Six and Mainline Jazz through the 80s and 90s, and finally freelancing since his return to Millom more recently. In the interim he also played in Australia while living there, and then for many years in Cornwall with the Great Western Jazz Company. Originally he lived and played in the Liverpool area before moving to Cumbria, and there may still be musicians there who recollect his early career. Funeral details will follow when known. -
So sad to learn of Phil Morris’ passing. He was indeed a fine musician who played for some years in Cornwall where we met as Merseyside ‘exiles’ shortly after his return from Australia, we jointly formed the Peninsula Jazzband down here in 2009, principally made up of NW jazz exiles living in the south-west, which played at Bude and Teignmouth Jazz festivals and regularly at the well known 51 Jazz Club near Hayle. Phil was a fine lead with a penchant for the Billie Holiday repertoire. He went on the play consistently for local bands, Great Western Jazz Company and Black Rock Jazzband in far west Cornwall. Phil will be very much missed wherever he played. My condolences to his family and fellow musicians upon yet another sad loss to the ever diminishing jazz fraternity. -
Alan Davies, Cornwall
Sorry to hear of the passing of Phil. Bruce Carnaffin asks about musicians from Merseyside knowing Phil. We were in the Dave Lind Jazzmen with Dave Lind clarinettist (deceased), Paul Rodgers trombone, Warwick Evans piano (deceased), Ron Lloyd banjo, Ron Horton drums and myself on bass.
We played at the Downbeat and Mardi Gras Jazz Clubs in Liverpool from 1959-1963 until the advent of BEATLE MANIA. 4 nights a week and many other venues including the CAVERN in the early days. All of the band except Ron Horton and myself were at Liverpool University. Phil lived with his Gran in Rock Ferry as his family had moved to Hertfordshire and most of the band were from the Wirral. Ron Lloyd now in Canada, Ron Horton (London), Paul Rodgers (Lancashire), and myself Irby (Wirral).
I will be at
the funeral and if you can contact Bruce Carnaffin and give him my
email address we could make each other known, and I can give him
some more info and pass on some early recordings circa 1959-60. Even
at 19-20 yrs Phil was a fine trumpet player in Black Chicago style.
As a good friend of Phil Morris with whom I played drums/washboard from 1957 to 1963, I was very sad on his passing. I concur with Jim West’s contribution on your tribute page.
PHIL MORRIS: IN MEMORIAM
By Brian Hudson - 04/12/18
I first met Phil Morris in 1957 when we both began our undergraduate studies in the Geography Department at the University of Liverpool. We soon discovered that we shared a passion for jazz, something that lasted throughout our university years and for the rest of our lives. To me, a Yorkshireman by birth, but having spent most of my childhood and teenage years in the Kentish outer suburbs of London, Liverpool was an excitingly new experience. Phil, however was one of the many locals who attended the red brick University set in the heart of the City. He lived 'over the water' on the Wirral Peninsula quite close to the border of Wales a country from which, he told me, came some of his ancestors. He also claimed to have gypsy blood, a combination which may help to explain his musical talent.
When we met, Phil had already begun learning to play the trumpet, and, soon after my arrival in Liverpool, I bought a set of drums in the hope of joining a jazz band at the University. We both joined the University's jazz society, Rhythm Club, and, eventually, I became a member of the Liverpool University Jazz band that succeeded the excellent student band which was there when Phil and I arrived. That earlier group was led by medical student John Higham, who, on retirement many years later, became trumpeter with the Merseysippi Jazz Band. The highly successful Liverpool University band that Phil and I admired when we began our University lives soon ceased to exist due to the graduation and departure of its musicians. While Phil became a member of Rhythm Club and often played with some of its jazz musicians, he performed mainly with local Merseyside bands, becoming the trumpeter with a disciplined Black Chicago style group led by clarinettist Dave Lind. This group, which included several Liverpool University musicians, evolved into the Dave Stone Jazz Band after Dave Lind suffered a motor bike accident that restricted his ability to play.
While I spent much of my time and energy involved with jazz at the University, playing drums with a variety of student groups and becoming the President of Rhythm Club, Phil continued to play mainly with the Dave Lind/Dave Stone band. One occasion on which I played drums with Phil stands out in my memory. We were one of the groups, including rock as well as jazz, that were hired (for no fee, I believe) to play at a charity Mardi Gras Ball held in Liverpool’s St. Georges Hall on 16th December, 1960. Among the other members of that ‘University Trad Band’ was a future managing director of Tesco on trombone and a future Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto on guitar. The latter, a world authority on ageing and memory, has vividly reminded me of the wild behaviour of those attending the ball in that magnificent architectural setting.
In 1960, Phil and I graduated with our BA (Hons. Geography) degrees, and, following different paths of professional training, we both became town and country planners. In 1964 I joined the planning staff of the Skelmersdale Development Corporation helping to create a new town in Lancashire close to Liverpool where I continued to live. Phil, too, remained in the Northwest, working in Lancashire before moving to the Lake District where he eventually became a planning officer responsible for guiding development in the southern portion of that beautiful region. His love of the Lake District and its environs remained with him for the rest of his life. So did his love of jazz.
During the period when the ‘Morrules’ lived on a hilltop property near Byron Bay, New South Wales, Phil was able to come and visit me and my wife in Brisbane, our home since we moved with our family from Jamaica to Queensland in 1985. On these occasional visits, Phil would sometimes bring along his trumpet when the two of us went out to some of the jazz venues near my inner city home. I have happy memories of Phil sitting in with Brisbane bands at The Press Club and The Bowery. Phil’s performances were always much appreciated and well received.
I greatly enjoyed listening to his trumpet and vocal performances, as well as his occasional contribution on piano. Even when, in our student days, I immersed myself more and more in modern jazz, I continued to find pleasure in Phil’s tasteful playing in the old tradition. On his visits to my Brisbane home, we both enjoyed listening to and discussing discs from my jazz record collection, Phil becoming increasingly appreciative of a wide range of jazz genres. He even added Charlie Parker’s ‘Yardbird Suite’ to his repertoire.
Phil’s death brings to an
end a life well lived, one that was enriched by a love of music, of
the beauty of nature, and of family and friends. For those who knew
him, Phil Morris will be warmly remembered as a knowledgeable,
modest, kindly man with a keen sense of humour and a musical talent
that brought pleasure to many.
Phil sent me this picture as an email attachment in April, 2017. The portrait vividly captures Phil in action. This excellent visual record is the work of artist Will Williams who was a regular at Burgundy’s Wine Bar, Kendal until he moved to Scotland.
I took this photograph in The Philharmonic pub, Liverpool, where some former members of the Liverpool University Rhythm Club gathered for a reunion in October, 2008.
Creator of the Mersey Beat newspaper Bill Harry has given me permission to use this poster which advertises the Mardi Gras Ball at which the ‘University Trad Band’ played in December, 1960.
was at University with Phil Morris and played banjo in the Dave
Lind Band with him. He was a very affable fellow in the
wonderful band we had, playing Chicago-style jazz. It really
made me a fan of Jelly Roll Morton. I last met him at a reunion
of the band in the home of Dave Lind. Now three members of the
band have passed away but their memory is still strong.