James Morrison Is Adapting To The Modern World By Bringing His Music Academy To The People

  • Written by 
  • Thursday, 16 December 2021 14:31
Published in Music  
James Morrison brings his Motown Experience band to 2022 Blues On Broadbeach. James Morrison brings his Motown Experience band to 2022 Blues On Broadbeach.

The James Morrison Academy of Music (JMAM) is taking a new direction, one which its mastermind, jazz virtuoso James Morrison, is positively elated by.

With the closure of its Old Town Hall campus, there's a new format by which JMAM will be delivered, the promise and excitement of which is driving James so to speak.

Originally started as an institution to offer tertiary qualifications in jazz music, the JMAM will now be delivered as a pop-up academy, working as an outreach organisation without geographic limitations, bringing music education and inspiration to the interested and inspired community at large.

"Since we started seven years ago, we've been focused on the tertiary sector," James explains. "It's been fantastic but through various things – COVID, our partnerships – that was coming to a close; I thought, 'this is as opportunity'.

"There are so many high school kids, younger kids, older people, that we're not having any interaction with at all, so I decided this was the time to broaden the Academy's reach completely."

The Academy's new pop-up format suits both James as well as those involved much better in several ways.

"I'm travelling around so much, I can get some of the alumni who are really interested in being involved, and go and visit schools, communities, do workshops and events wherever it's needed."

James calls it a COVID silver lining. "Wherever there's musical inspiration [or] music education needed, we can have the Academy there for whatever period of time is appropriate for that project,” he says.

It was just November when the Academy announced this new format, and in that short space of time James says the reception to the idea from existing and potential students has been "amazing, fantastic".

"There's so much going on already," he enthuses, "and a fantastic response already, not only from potential places to go and people to work with, but also my alumni and other musicians saying, 'can we help, can we get involved?'.

“And also supporters contacting us and saying 'how can we support? We want to be a part of it.'"

Such is the sincerity of James' ardent love for this establishment, it's easy not to be infected by it, to get motivated to become involved. "It's an inspiring idea," James agrees.

"Now I'm thinking, whether COVID had happened or we had moved away from the tertiary sector, I'd want to be doing this anyway."

With the change in delivery of the Academy, the repertoire instructed will be somewhat expanded. "It still be centred around jazz but in a very broad sense," James says.

"When it's a bachelor degree, it's quite focused, but we'll still use jazz as a basis because it is so adaptable.

"We don't have to be strict about the definition because, frankly, we have no one to answer to other than the people right in front of us and whether they're having an amazing experience."

James, who has put so much of his recent time and soul into the reformation of the Academy, will appear at Blues On Broadbeach next year. "I love the setting," he says.

"I love the whole ethos of the thing. Firstly, [it's] this big, free event, so everyone can come. It's in the street – I just love that feeling of the community can gather together.

"It's one of these restriction-less things where we can go; whomever you are, come along and enjoy this music."

At Blues On Broadbeach, James will perform with a full band to present the James Morrison Motown Experience; not veering too far from the jazz path for which he's so well known, but instead, embracing his roots.

"Even though I'm a jazz musician, I grew up with Motown – it's music you don't need to know," he says, "[whereas] to really get the best out of jazz as a listener, knowledge helps. If you're going to come and play current popular tunes, again, people who know the band get more out of it.

"One of the great things about Motown, you start playing some fantastic Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye thing, and some young person who doesn't even know the artist immediately gets the song and gets that groove.

"I have a ball doing this show and putting this band together for this music, because there's that dual thing – it doesn't matter who it is or where they're from, they're going to love it. That's been my experience [of Motown] and what a great setting to do it, at Blues on Broadbeach."

2022 Blues On Broadbeach (Gold Coast) takes place 19-22 May. The event is free.

Blues On Broadbeach 2022 Line-up

The James Morrison Motown Experience
Robben Ford
Mia Dyson
Cookin' On 3 Burners w/ Stella Angelico
Emma Donovan & The Putbacks
Bondi Cigars
Hamish Anderson
R.L. Boyce w/ Dom Turner
The Seven Ups
Karen Lee Andrews
Jimi Hocking's Blues Machine
8 Ball Aitken
Dave Hole
Karl S. Williams
The Soul Movers
Checkerboard Lounge
Bitches Brew
Sweet Talk
Dishpan Hands
Oscar Ladell
The Magnificence
Dave Blight w/ Mick Kidd
Sweet Thunder
Plus more to be announced



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