Brian Morton (Scottish writer)

Last updated

Brian Morton (born 1954) is a Scottish writer, journalist and former broadcaster, specialising in jazz and modern literature.


Early life and education

Born in Paisley, near Glasgow and raised in Dunoon, Morton was educated at the University of Edinburgh and taught in the late 1970s at the University of East Anglia (under Malcolm Bradbury) [1] and the University of Tromsø in Norway. [2]

Writing and broadcasting

From 1992 to 1997, Morton was the main presenter of Impressions [3] for Radio 3, a fortnightly jazz and improvised music programme. For more than a decade Morton was a familiar voice on music programmes and features on other arts related subjects on the London-based BBC networks. For some years he was one of the presenters and a producer of The Usual Suspects, [3] Later he hosted The Brian Morton Show on BBC Radio Scotland, until 2003 after criticising the BBC's arts coverage.

He is co-author, with Richard Cook, of The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (formerly ...on CD), whose ninth edition (undertaken single-handed following Cook's premature death in 2007) was published at the end of October 2008. He is also the author of The Blackwell Guide to Recorded Contemporary Music (1996), which covers modern classical music. Morton was a frequent contributor to Jazz Review magazine, and was briefly editor in 2008; the magazine was absorbed by Jazz Journal in 2009, for which Morton has written. A biography, Miles Davis , was issued by Haus Publishing in 2005. He is a long-standing contributor to The Wire and to the Catholic weekly The Tablet . Morton converted to Catholicism in 1984.

Morton's non-jazz books include translations from the Norwegian of Jonas Lie, Prince: Thief in the Temple (Canongate Books) and Shostakovich (Haus). A short biography of the writer Edgar Allan Poe appeared in November 2009.

Morton has been a 'Comment' columnist in the Scottish edition of The Observer newspaper and, like his American namesake, is an occasional contributor to The Nation magazine. [4]

Private life and honours

In 2011, Morton relocated to Kintyre, moving with his family into a small former monastery. [5] He now writes and farms with his wife, landscape photographer Sarah MacDonald. They have one son. Morton also has two older daughters from his first marriage. He is writing a biographical study of St Columba.

He holds an honorary D.Litt. from the University of St Andrews, awarded on St Andrews Day, 2000, for services to Scottish broadcasting and cultural life. [6]

Related Research Articles

{{Infobox radio show | show_name = Today | image = | format = News, current events, and factual

<i>The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady</i> 1963 studio album by Charles Mingus

The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady is a studio album by American jazz double bassist, composer, and bandleader Charles Mingus. It was recorded on January 20, 1963, and released in July of that year by Impulse! Records. The album consists of a single continuous composition—partially written as a ballet—divided into four tracks and six movements.

<i>Jelly Roll Morton: The Complete Library of Congress Recordings</i> 2005 box set by Jelly Roll Morton

Jelly Roll Morton: The Complete Library of Congress Recordings is a 2005 box set of recordings from jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton. The set spans 128 tracks over eight CDs. It won two Grammy Awards in 2006, Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes.

Richard David Cook was a British jazz writer, magazine editor and former record company executive. Sometimes credited as R. D. Cook, Cook was born in Kew, Surrey, and lived in west London as an adult. A writer on music from the late 1970s until he died, Cook was co-author, with Brian Morton, of The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings, which lasted for ten editions until 2010. Richard Cook's Jazz Companion and It's About That Time: Miles Davis On and Off the Record were published in 2005.

Fiona Talkington

Fiona Talkington is a broadcaster, writer, presenter, and curator best known in the UK for her work on BBC Radio 3 where she has been a presenter since 1989.

Benny Green (pianist) American hard bop jazz pianist

Benny Green is an American hard bop jazz pianist who was a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. He has been compared to Bud Powell and Oscar Peterson in style and counts them as influences.

Art Hodes Musical artist

Arthur W. Hodes, was a Russian Empire-born American jazz and blues pianist. He is regarded by many critics as the greatest white blues pianist.

Andy LaVerne is an American jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and educator.

Simon Nabatov Musical artist

Simon Nabatov is a Russian-American jazz pianist.

<i>The Penguin Guide to Jazz</i> Encyclopedic dictionary of jazz compact discs

The Penguin Guide to Jazz is a reference work containing an encyclopedic directory of jazz recordings on CD which were currently available in Europe or the United States. The first nine editions were compiled by Richard Cook and Brian Morton, two chroniclers of jazz resident in the United Kingdom.

Brian Kellock is a Scottish jazz pianist.

Peter James Clayton was an English jazz presenter on BBC radio, jazz critic, and author. From October 1968 until his death in August 1991, Clayton presented jazz recordings, interviews, studio performances, and live performances on BBC Radio 1, 2, and 3, as well as the BBC World Service. He co-authored several books about music and jazz with Peter Gammond and was a frequent contributor to jazz magazines.

Steve Kirby is an American jazz bassist, composer and educator.

Jazz Review was a Scottish jazz magazine, founded in 1998. The founders were jazz writer Richard Cook and Roger Spence of the talent management agency Direct Music Limited of Edinburgh, Scotland. Jazz Review covered the entire range of jazz history from early jazz through swing to bebop, modern jazz and the avant-garde, and was known for its scholarly approach and independent stance. Major artists — including Keith Jarrett, Lee Konitz, Ornette Coleman, Dave Brubeck, and Wynton Marsalis — gave interviews to the magazine; historical surveys have included the Modern Jazz Quartet, Fletcher Henderson, Oscar Peterson, and Andrew Hill. The magazine was also renowned for its coverage of British jazz.

Edward Seckerson is a British music journalist and radio presenter specialising in musical theatre. Formerly Chief Classical Music Critic of the Independent, Edward Seckerson is a writer, broadcaster and podcaster. He wrote and presented the long-running BBC Radio 3 series Stage & Screen in which he interviewed many of the most prominent writers and stars of musical theatre. He appears regularly on BBC Radio 3 and 4. On television, he has commentated a number of times at the Cardiff Singer of the World competition. He has published books on Mahler and the conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, and has been on Gramophone Magazine’s review panel for many years. Edward presented the long-running BBC Radio Four musical quiz Counterpoint for one year in 2007, after the death of Ned Sherrin.

<i>Now Please Dont You Cry, Beautiful Edith</i> 1967 studio album by Roland Kirk

Now Please Don't You Cry, Beautiful Edith is an album by the jazz multi-instrumentalist Roland Kirk, released on the Verve label in 1967. It contains performances by Kirk with Lonnie Liston Smith, Ronnie Boykins and Grady Tate.

<i>Far Cry</i> (album) 1962 studio album by Eric Dolphy

Far Cry is the third album by jazz musician Eric Dolphy, released in 1962 on New Jazz Featuring a quintet co-led with trumpeter Booker Little, it is one of the few recordings of their partnership. Pianist Jaki Byard, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Roy Haynes all return from earlier Dolphy albums. This was a busy time for Dolphy- he took part in Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz session and recorded this album on the same day, and had participated in the Jazz Abstractions project the previous day.

Alyn Shipton is an English jazz author, presenter, critic, and jazz bassist.

<i>Modern Windows</i> 1962 studio album by Bill Barron

Modern Windows is an album by saxophonist Bill Barron which was recorded in 1961 and first released on the Savoy label. The album was reissued on CD combined with The Tenor Stylings of Bill Barron in 2000.

<i>Inner Cry Blues</i> 2007 studio album by Grachan Moncur III

Inner Cry Blues is an album by trombonist and composer Grachan Moncur III. It was recorded in February 2007, and was released by Lunar Module Records later that year. On the album, Moncur is accompanied by saxophonist Mitch Marcus, trumpeter Erik Jekabson, vibraphonist Ben Adams, bassist Lukas Vesely, and drummer Sameer Gupta. Issued three years after Exploration, it was Moncur's second album following a lengthy hiatus, during which he wrote, taught, and dealt with dental issues.


  1. Brian Morton "Far Cry" column, Point of Departure website [Issue No.18, August 2008]
  2. Book review, Times Higher Education Supplement, 19 May 1995.
  3. 1 2 Brian Morton Archived 2012-09-29 at the Wayback Machine , Penguin author page
  4. Contributor profile, The Nation magazine website
  5. Brian Morton "Far Cry", Point of Departure website, [Issue No.36, September 2011]
  6. "St Andrew's day celebrations" Archived 5 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine , University of St Andrews website, 27 October 2000.