Wilber Morris

Wilber Morris, a jazz musician and bandleader who was an accomplished free jazz bassist, was born in Los Angeles on November 27, 1937. He was older brother to Lawrence “Butch”, a cornetist. As a child, Morris began playing drums. He joined the Air Force in 1954. During his tour of duty that lasted from 1962 to 1962, he switched over to the bass. Morris was a San Francisco musician who played with Sonny Simmons and Pharoah Sands. After he left the Air Force, Morris returned to Los Angeles where he played with Arthur Blythe, Horace Tapscott, and many other musicians. In 1969, he returned to San Francisco. However, his jazz career did not take off until 1978 when he moved to New York. Morris was soon able to find work with Billy Bang, a violinist, and David Murray as a saxophonist. This relationship would last well into the ’90s. Morris formed Wilber Force in 1981, while performing with Murray’s early-’80s octet sessions. The group, which initially featured drummer Denis Charles as well as saxophonist Charles Tyler in 1981, recorded an album called Collective Improvisations for Bleu regard. Murray was the lead singer on Wilber Force, the double-LP sequel. Morris was a teacher, performer and record producer from 1986 to the present. In the mid-’90s, he began to play outside Murray’s band more frequently, including with Charles Gayle and Makanda Ken McIntyre. He also played with Noah Howard, Roy Campbell and Bob Ackerman. Morris was a performer with Bobby Few and Rashied Ali in the new millennium. However, his previous bout of cancer returned and he died on August 8, 2002.

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