It was a standing ovation for Gunnedah Shire Band and the world-renowned James Morrison who played to a packed band hall on Wednesday night.

The performance can only be described as “world class” as the town’s national champion band performed in concert with James Morrison, a virtuoso on the trumpet, tuba, euphonium, saxophone, clarinet, double bass, guitar and piano – and of course the flugel horn, with the audience treated to a performance of the only E flat rotary flugel horn in the world, hand crafted for the multi-talented instrumentalist in Europe.

“It is a joy to be here with this fabulous band,” he said. “I was born in Boorowa and then moved to Blayney and Orange – we never ventured as far as Gunnedah or I could have been part of this incredible band.”

After six weeks of practice and two sessions working with James Morrison, the band members performed a new repertoire under the baton of Anthony Rowe who was awarded life membership of the Gunnedah Shire Band at the end of the night.

Flowers were also presented to Debbie Leggat who was instrumental in organising the event after making contact with the musician.

An engaging personality as well as a gifted musician, James Morrison was accompanied by his son William who enthralled the audience with his skill on guitar and his beautiful singing voice. His rendition of Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany’s had the colourful entertainer regaling the audience with his reason for choosing that song.

“It was my wife Judi,” he said. “She was a Miss Australia when I met her and after missing out on two opportunities to take her out I finally caught up with her at Brisbane airport where she looked just like Audrey Hepburn in that movie as she stepped down from the plane.”

The Gunnedah program also included Caravan written by Duke Ellington, Nobody Does it Better from The James Bond classic The Spy Who Loved Me, Body and Soul by Johnny Green, Polka Dots and Moonbeams, and then a sensational solo on euphonium by Sebastian Rowe the third generation to perform with the Gunnedah Shire Band. A jazz master class on Wednesday morning attracted primary and high school music students and was followed by a workshop for high school students.

Morrison has performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Don Burrows, Ray Charles, and B.B. King. He has also worked with George Benson, Ray Brown, Cab Calloway, Jon Faddis, Herbie Hancock, Whitney Houston, Quincy Jones, Graeme Lyall, Wynton Marsalis, Mark Nightingale, Red Rodney, Arturo Sandoval, Woody Shaw, Frank Sinatra, and Phil Stack as well as performing for former US president Barack Obama and the late Queen Elizabeth II. With all of these notable performances in mind, the audience was thrilled that he would choose Gunnedah for one of his many appearances.

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