TRC

Joe Morris Orchestra: Fly Mister Fly (1947-49) 1985

Fly Mister Fly

Track list:

01. Fly Mister Fly
02. Wilma’s Idea
03. Joe’s Boogie
04. Out of the Night
05. Lowe Groovin’
06. Jump With Me
07. Mad Moon
08. The Spider
09. Bottletop
10. Wow!
11. Weasel Walk
12. Boogie-Woogie March
13. Chuck-A-Boogie
14. Beans and Cornbread
15. Portia’s Boogie
16. Broken Hearted Blues

Personnel:

#1-4: New York City; late 1947:
Joe Morris (tp), Johnny Griffin (ts), Bill McLemore (bs), Wilmus Reeves (p), George Freeman (g), Emmett Dailey (b), Leroy Jackson (d), band members (vcl)
#5-7: New York City; December 12, 1947:
Joe Morris (tp), Johnny Griffin (ts), Bill McLemore (bs), Wilmus Reeves (p), George Freeman (g), Emmett Dailey (b), Leroy Jackson (d)
#8,9: New York City; December 23, 1947:
Probably: Joe Morris (tp), Johnny Griffin (ts), Bill McLemore (bs), Wilmus Reeves (p), George Freeman (g), Emmett Dailey (b), Leroy Jackson (d)
#10: New York City; September 19, 1948:
Joe Morris (tp), Matthew Gee (tb), Johnny Griffin (ts), Bill McLemore (bs), Elmo Hope (p), Percy Heath (b), ‘Philly’ Joe Jones (d), band members (vcl)
#11-13: New York City; December 22, 1948:
Probably: Joe Morris (tp), Matthew Gee (tb), Johnny Griffin (ts), Bill McLemore (bs), Elmo Hope (p), Nelson Boyd (b), ‘Philly’ Joe Jones (d)
#14: New York City; May 11, 1949:
Joe Morris (tp, vcl), Matthew Gee (tb), Johnny Griffin (ts), Bill McLemore (bs), Elmo Hope (p), Percy Heath (b), ‘Philly’ Joe Jones (d), band members (vcl)
#15: New York City; October 28, 1949:
Joe Morris (tp), Alfonso King (tb), Johnny Griffin (ts), Wally Williams (ts), Bill McLemore (bs), Elmore Sylvester Hope (p), Bobby Burton (b), Sinclair Abbot (d)
#16: New York City; November 18, 1949
Joe Morris (tp), Alfonso King (tb), Johnny Griffin (ts), Wally Williams (ts), Bill McLemore (bs), Elmore Sylvester Hope (p), Bobby Burton (b), Al Jones (d)

This compilation:
Recorded: 1947-49
Released: 1985
Label: saxophonograph (division of Mr R&B records)
BP 504 [mono]

Producer: Felix Prochaska, Mr R&B
Engineer:

Liner Notes: Jonas Bernholm (January, 1985)

Cover photos courtesy Orkester Journalen and Mr R&B
Cover design: Lasse Ermalm

*****

Although tenor sax man Johnny Griffin is the headliner on the front cover of this 1985 Saxophonograph LP, these sides were recorded by and originally credited to Joe Morris And His Orchestra. Band leader, trumpeter and occasional vocalist Joe Morris and tenor sax legend Johnny Griffin were both former members of the Lionel Hampton big band. Around 1946 or 1947 they formed a small group which showed an inclination to go down the bop path rather than the jump blues / R&B route.

In late 1946 /early 1947 they recorded four boppish sides for Manor. Towards the end of 1947 they started recording for the new Atlantic label, quickly adopting a more R&B oriented approach to their recordings. At this stage of its development, Atlantic’s leading acts were two small groups with deep jazz roots – the Morris outfit and the Tiny Grimes band. Both groups soon started to achieve respectable record sales by recording in a swinging poplar style, and both featured big toned abrasive tenor sax players – Johnny Griffin and Red Prysock respectively.

This fine LP of sides recorded between 1947 and 1949 shows the process of the move by the Joe Morris band from jazz into solid R&B / jump territory, particularly in the contrast between the Manor sides and pounding instrumentals such as “Wow!” and “Weasel Walk” and the cover version of “Beans And Cornbread.” Missing from this collection is the band’s powerful version of “The Applejack” which is certainly well worth catching.

Griffin left the band around 1950, moving on to a very successful jazz career. The Joe Morris band became the “Joe Morris Blues Cavalcade”, an R&B revue show similar to that of Johnny Otis, which enjoyed a fair amount of success in the R&B field. But I am getting ahead of myself, for the Blues Cavalcade and its vocalists such as Laurie Tate and Faye Adams will be subject of our next post.

In the meantime, this LP sits squarely in the Be Bop Wino zone, where jazz, jump and R&B meet in a rousing mix.

*****

Fly Mister Fly – Manor 1136
Wilma’s Idea – Manor 1157
Joe’s Boogie – Manor 1157
Out of the Night – Manor 1136
Lowe Groovin’ – Atlantic 855
Jump With Me – Atlantic 855
Mad Moon – Atlantic 859
The Spider – Atlantic 859
Bottletop – Atlantic 878
Wow! – Atlantic 870
Weasel Walk – Atlantic 870
Boogie-Woogie March – Atlantic 855
Chuck-A-Boogie – Atlantic 855
Beans and Cornbread – Atlantic 878
Portia’s Boogie – Decca 48123
Broken Hearted Blues – Decca 48126

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