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Though here in the Twenty-First Century Joe Morris is hardly one of the more recognizable artists of rock’s early days he’s still got some measure of notoriety for those who have cast their eye backwards on music at the mid-century point.

Whether jazz fans faintly remembering he started out with Lionel Hampton and featured future sax star Johnny Griffin in his band, or rock fans who recall his string of consistent sellers in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, he’s not totally obscure at any rate.

But even his biggest supporters would have to admit that a large part of his lingering familiarity is due to the record company most of his best records came out on. Few independent labels have been written about and studied as much much as Atlantic Records over the years and so, with Joe being their first real star, albeit in a much darker sky than what would emerge in a few years, it means Joe Morris, trumpet player, bandleader and occasional vocalist, has never disappeared off the radar entirely.

That would lead many to conclude that he was a solid company man, a lifer, an original artist who stuck with them through thick and thin as the company grew and became a force in rock ‘n’ roll within a few years. But in truth Joe Morris and Atlantic Records were often drifting apart only to be pulled back together by circumstance.
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