James, jazz and Jesus: HIStory


Cooranbong, New South Wales

James Morrison and brother John will join a former collaborator and two Avondale ensembles in concert to perform songs they first played 30 years ago.

We counted ourselves fortunate to have [James'] talents available in our church, but he was just one of the guys.

Jesus: HIStory will reunite the multi-instrumentalist and the jazz drummer with friend David Pudney, a double bassist who is now director of Avondale College of Higher Education’s jazz ensemble. The reunion has its roots in a recording of unpublished pieces David and father-in-law Pastor Neil Gough composed in the 1980s for their local church, Kerugma Christian Fellowship, of which the Morrisons were founding members.

“We performed the songs to a small but enthusiastic audience then left the songs on the shelf as more inspiration led to the writing of other songs,” says David. He tailored the music for James, whose prowess even then had contributed to a growing reputation as a virtuoso. “We counted ourselves fortunate to have his talents available in our church, but he was just one of the guys.”

Jesus: HIStory will see James Morrison playing music he first performed 30 years ago.

The music, and the fellowship, meant a lot to James. He describes Kerugma as an “amazing upbringing” where “we were always learning and growing. I’ve been blessed to have such a nurturing place to start my musical journey.”

James’ Kerugma experience included performing the songs now recorded by Avondale vocal ensemble The Promise and Avondale Jazz Ensemble on the album Jesus: HIStory. The gospel-inspired, jazz-flavoured one-hour musical narrative reimagines the timeless stories of the Gospels. David originally conceived the songs as solos to be sung by Neil’s church members, “most of who were willing amateurs.” His re-write for The Promise adds up to eight-part harmonies. “The ensemble enabled me to expand the songs harmonically and, in conjunction with Avondale Jazz Ensemble, breathe new life into the material.”

The concert will reconnect James and John with the songs. “On one hand, I feel more affinity with the older repertoire because I grew up with it—and musically, it’s quite different,” says James. “On the other hand, I still feel the ‘reason’ for the music is the same . . . It speaks to a fundamental part of you, more to do with the soul rather than the mind.”

David is looking forward to performing again with his mates. “It’ll be like putting an old pair of shoes on, but it will also be a joy to hear how James and John respond to the feeling and the passion The Promise bring to this music.”

James Morrison and The Promise: Jesus: HIStory, Wallsend Seventh-day Adventist Church (182 Lake Rd, Elermore Vale NSW 2287), Sunday, October 19, 6 pm. Also featuring: David Pudney (double bass), John Morrison (drums) and Avondale Jazz Ensemble. Tickets from $40. See details at <www.avondale.edu.au/events>.