Byron Morris
Musician, Saxophonist, Band Leader,
Composer, Music Seminarist

With music a part of his life before even birth, Byron Morris' love for music and talent was, perhaps, inevitable. His deep appreciation was nurtured throughout his youth through the inspiration and examples set by his father and grandmother -- each of whom were talented musicians and performers in their own right. Byron's father, James W. "Jim Billy" Morris was a tenor and alto saxophonist, and the band leader, arranger and composer for the Aristocrats Orchestra. His grandmother, a business owner and cosmetologist, played the piano and violin, and spiritual and popular songs.

As a youth in Roanoke, VA, Byron took clarinet and saxophone lessons from his father. He also took lessons with Bernard "Bernie" Whitman and Joseph Finley, his elementary school through secondary school band director, where Byron played in the marching, concert and jazz bands. After 15-year-old Byron landed a job at the popular Kaiser's Record Shoppe, he was witness to the comings and goings of famous musicians that stayed across the street in the Dumas Hotel -- Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Antoine "Fats" Domino, B.B. King and many others.
In 1972, in the original liner notes of “Let My Children hear Music,” Charles Mingus wrote: “I say, let my children have music! For God’s sake, rid this society of some of the noise so that those who have ears will be able to use them someplace listening to good music.” I say the future of Good Music belongs to those who can hear music, and not be confused by the noise in this society…
-Byron Morris
April 2006

While his father was a talented musician and encouraged Byron, he was also a practical man and insisted that his son save up his earnings for college. Byron earned a BS in Electrical Construction Engineering from Tuskegee University -- a degree that led him to such companies as IBM. However, Byron never left music, founding three groups: Unity with trumpeter and composer Vincent McEwan, and composer and trumpeter Gerald Wise; Three Saxes for Lester (Young) with Ron Holloway and Clyde Dickerson; and The Swingin' Saxes with Orrington Hall and Charlie Young. Byron Morris along with his various musical aggregations have performed in the major venues in the DC Metro Area, including Blues Alley, Kennedy Center Cool Jazz Festival, Wolf Trap Performance Arts Center, Carter Barron Amphitheater, Fort DuPont Park Jazz series, Takoma Station Club, and Left Bank Jazz Society of Baltimore, at the Famous Ballroom in Baltimore, MD.

Today, Byron is an educator and well-sought expert on the history of jazz music. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1973, 1978 and 1983. And he conducts workshops at high schools and at the university level, where he has formed a long-term bond since 1981, with the Nyumburu Cultural Center at the University of Maryland at College Park.