Morrissey–Mullen was a British jazz-funk/fusion group of the 1970s and 1980s.
Considered one of the most popular jazz groups in London, the band was led by Dick Morrissey on tenor and soprano saxes and flute, and Jim Mullen on guitar, who joined forces in 1975, playing together for sixteen years, during which they came to be known as “Mr Sax and Captain Axe” because of their hallmark call and response style between guitar and saxophone.
The band began in New York City where Dick Morrissey and Jim Mullen were recording and touring with their mutual friends in the Average White Band and Herbie Mann.
Up (Atlantic, 1977) included Average White Band as a rhythm section, Luther Vandross and Cissy Houston on vocals, and New York session musicians. A six-week residency at Mikell’s in New York City attracted Boz Scaggs, David Sanborn, Steve Gadd, Steve Ferrone, Richard Tee, George Benson, Ray Barretto, Michael Brecker, and Randy Brecker.
On their return to the United Kingdom, Morrissey-Mullen concentrated on the small-club/pub circuit, including a residency at The Half Moon, Putney for many years. In 1979, EMI commissioned them to enter the Abbey Road Studios to make “Britain’s first digitally-recorded single record”, a cover version of the hit “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” by Rose Royce. Their album Badness (1981) reached number one in the UK disco chart. The band performed in the live sessions of Night Owls, a BBC Radio 2 programme presented by jazz writer and tenor saxophonist Dave Gelly.
Morrissey-Mullen’s backing band included British jazz musicians such as Martin Drew, David Sheen, Chris Ainsworth, Tony Beard, Neil Wilkinson, John Mole, Clive Chaman, John McKenzie, Joe Hubbard, Trevor Barry, and Pete Jacobsen, John Critchinson, Martin Blackwell, Geoff Castle, and John Burch (with whom Dick Morrissey would formed an octet in 1984). Although members of the band had included two session musicians from New Zealand, Frank Gibson, Jr. on drums and Bruce Lynch on bass, the band was also a springboard for a generation of young British musicians, including Chris Fletcher on percussion, Gary Husband on drums, Rob Burns on bass, Claire Hamill and Carol Kenyon on vocals (both on whom appeared with Dick Morrissey on the 1981 Jon & Vangelis album The Friends of Mr Cairo), Tessa Niles, Linda Taylor, and Noel McCalla.
Morrissey’s failing health required too many visits to hospital for the band to be viable. When the band dissolved in 1988, Mullen and Morrissey continued meeting for jam sessions with what they called,”Our Band”, usually with the same musicians that had accompanied them in the past. They appeared at the 1991 Cork Jazz Festival in the Metropole Hotel in Cork, Ireland.
It’s About time is the sixth album released by British jazz fusion duo Morrissey–Mullen.
The album was produced by Richard Niles, who also wrote some of the songs.
The title track is in tribute to the US saxophonist Teddy Edwards who had recently had a “duel” with Dick Morrissey at London’s 100 Club. (by wikipedia)
“This was the first album that we did when Pete Jacobsen joined the band on keyboards. ‘Southend Pierre’ was one of Pete’s compositions. We also did Pete’s arrangement of Steve Wonder’s ‘Visions’.
There are a couple of vocals on the album from Noel McCalla, which were the only two songs he recorded with us, even though he was actually in the band for some years in its final incarnation. Noel wrote “All I Want To Do” with guitarist John Mizzarolli. “With You” was written by the son of a friend of mine and I thought this would be a good vehicle for Noel.
I was not really satisfied with this album – we were in a transitional stage from a ‘disco’ band to a more creative, jazzier musical style and this fell between the two styles.” (Jim Mullen)
But even this album is a real good one .. and if you like The Average White Band (like I do), then you should listen to this forgotten album !
Tevor Barry (bass)
Chris Fletcher (percussion)
Pete Jacobson (keyboards)
Dick Morrissey (saxophone)
Jim Mullen (guitar)
Neil Wilkinson (drums)
Noel McCalla (vocals on 04. + 07.)
01. A Tear For Crystal (Sanbor/Miller) 4.37
02. Mean Time (Mullen) 5.45
03. This Must Be The Place (Mullen) 4.47
04. With You (Gould) 4.59
05. Southend Pierre (Jacobson) 7.34
06. Visions (Wonder) 5.38
07. All I Want To Do (McCalla/Mizarolli) 5.01