TRIBUTES TO DICK MORRISSEY
Dick Morrissey, musician, born May 9th 1940; died November 8th, 2000
"Oscar Peterson calls it, "swinging you into bad health!". Ray Brown calls it "stompin' in a mudhole!" Gene Harris called it "low down, filthy, greasy..............!"
Whatever anyone calls it, Dick Morrissey did it with a vengeance. His sound, his time, and his sense of swing used to regularly reduce me to tears, when I was playing with him or listening to him. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, "Dick Morrissey swung so much, it hurt!"
The jazz world is a much sadder place, now that he is no longer here, but his records will last for many, many years, providing a legacy to his brilliance.
Dick was a world class musician, and also a world class chap! He loved his pint of Guinness and being with his family or fellow musicians.
Dick didn't talk much about jazz or his music. He let his playing speak for himself, and my God, it did just that! There are many musicians who talk and talk about what they can do, etc., etc. But the acid test is when they get up on the bandstand, and do it, or not, as the case may be! Dick always did it, but never said much about it. Once he had finished there really wasn't much left to say!
He would love to listen to a Goon tape, and we would both imitate either Neddy Seagoon, Major Bloodnoc, or some comedy tape. When in my car on numerous occasions, when we were listening to some music, he would ask me to playk, Eccles, Little Jim, Grypepipe Thin, etc., falling about with laughter.
When we got to the gig, he did his magic, which is the only word for how he played and sounded. He was totally unpretentious, rather like Ronnie Scott, and indeed shared much the same musical outlook as Ronnie. Like Ronnie, Dick COM-manded respect, rather than DE-manded it. That difference, to my mind, is huge.
I have tapes of a band I used to lead, called "Our Band", which originally featured Louis Stewart on guitar, then Jim Mullen on guitar, John Critchinson on piano, the genius of Ron Mathewson on double bass, Dick on saxophone, and myself. What a band! There were also many nights with Tony Lee on piano, Tony Archer on double bass, Terry Smith on guitar, and myself, at the Bull's Head, Barnes. This was when Albert Tolley used to run The Bull, and I can see him now sitting at the back of the room, smiling all over his face, as he loved Dick so much. These are only memories I treasure. Many more people and musicians
During his last years, Dick must have suffered hugely through his illness, but he never made a big deal about it. He always had a kind word for everybody, and confounded everyone by playing almost up until he passed away. What an amazing example to all of us, and I will always be intensely proud to have known him, played with him, and shared some of the happiest musical moments of my life with him. A privilege, no less. Martin Drew
As I admired the many tributes to Dick Morrissey including half-pages in The Times, Guardian, Telegraph and Independent, I reflected on the fact that such fulsome praise never appeared during his lifetime. Despite legendary status amongst musicians, Dick's achievements went largely unnoticed by the press.
It seemed the crime of "not being American" consigned Dick to the lip-service department. Not that he gave any of this a second thought. He concentrated on what he did best"swinging like crazy". Dick's relaxed nature belied the fact that he was always totally focused on the music. Stories are still told of tenor battles with Sonny Stitt and Teddy Edwards, where Dick more than held his own. I'll never forget the daunting task of having to follow a Morrissey solo -"each one carved from marble" Every night was a master class in jazz improvisation. In 15 years working together I never knew Dick to "coast" or take it easy. He always gave 100%.
I treasure the memory of the last time we played together. This was the Morrissey Mullen band reunion held at the Astor Theatre, Deal, last August. Dick had called me a week before the gig saying he wasn't sure he'd be well enough. Despite his years of ill health, Dick never lost his enthusiasm and gigs at his local pub in Deal did† much to keep up his morale. I'm in the process of trying to get a Best of Morrissey Mullen CD releasedóboth to raise money for Dick's family, and to help keep alive the memory of a great musician and friend. Jim Mullen
Dick Morrissey was a beautiful human being and a great musician. The warmth of his personality and his passionately swinging saxophone touched (or thawed) the hearts of many people, and his courage throughout his long last illness was extraordinary. His recorded legacy embodies his qualities, but he himself is sorely missed. Ian Carr.
...one of our most
outstanding tenor sax players, Dick Morrissey, provided a fitting climax
for the evening. distinction, and of enduring value-Dick Morrissey
a player with a glorious true-to-tenor soundyes, a huge-massive,
one could emphasisesonority, though always adaptable and sympathetic
to the mood, tempo and content of the material selected for performance.
A warm, perfectly controlled vibrato; a relaxed, refusing-to-be-rushed
approach; complete control of the technical side of things. Then, what
feeling, what conviction and poise!