death of Keith Morris the founder of Schmazz
and his friend and fellow-musician Joe Scurfield, were killed
in a hit & run incident late on the evening of Wednesday
8th June 2005. Our thoughts go out to the families of both
was Keith who established the monthly ‘Schmazz @ the
Cluny’ gigs towards the end of 1999, and ran them
for the next four years. Even when he decided to pass on
the responsibility to a small committee in order to concentrate
on other musical activities, he maintained a close interest,
and it was his vision that continued to guide the Schmazz
that was just one part of Keith’s gift to the musical
life of the area. He was a superb multi-instrumentalist
(one recording lists him as contributing soprano, alto &
baritone saxes, guitar, keyboard, cuatro, panpipes, percussion
and vocals), a great bandleader (his own performances for
Schmazz were always one of the highlights of the year),
and a wonderful composer, who was equally adept at straight
jazz work, music for theatre, and song settings. He was,
in fact, one of the finest all-round musicians not just
in the North-East, but anywhere in Britain, and was increasingly
receiving commissions from elsewhere in the UK and Europe.
of all, though, Keith was one of the nicest people you could
ever hope to meet, endlessly supportive of the other musicians
with whom he worked, or whom he booked for gigs at Schmazz.
He will be mourned and missed by everybody who ever had
the privilege of working with him.
is irreplaceable, but his legacy lives on. Those of us who
now organise the Schmazz gigs will try to continue programming
the kind of original, stimulating music to which he was
so committed, as our way of saying “Thank you Keith”.