R.I.P. Terry “Tut” Morrissette, whose transition was made earlier today, Saturday January 7, 2017 at his home in Chicago, Illinois.
Terry Morrissette has long been a first-call drummer on Chicago’s legendary creative and always deepening Jazz scene. Early in his career Terry was a member of The Ramsey Lewis Trio, and frequently toured with that august ensemble.
For me it’s a personal loss. Terry produced my first CD at his Southside residence where he created TUTS Studio (his nickname was derived from the Egyptian Boy King Tut). Tut was always learning, tinkering, exploring, and creating in the spirit of the true artist and consummate musician he was. He was an early proponent of digital technology, as being ahead of the game was Tut’s M.O.
Tut was somewhat of a musical conduit and magnet, as are most great producers, in that he always seemed to know everyone in town on the Chicago jazz scene, and most of the top-tier players knew him as well. It was at his studio that I met the late great Art Porter Jr. (President Bill Clinton’s favorite saxophonist), Lawrence Hanks (pianist/ keyboard player extraordinaire and musical director for both the Regal Theater and award winning R&B singer Jerry Butler), and Nick Corlionne the internationally renowned Smooth Jazz guitarist. All four of these incredible musicians were assembled by Terry and appear on my debut recording, Dennis Day For Only You, which Terry produced in 1989-90.
Perhaps Tut’s Southside moxie and experience entertaining and informing music lovers while he served as the on-air knowledgeable disc Jockey on the University of Chicago’s Community Radio station WHPK 88.5 FM’ further anchored him in the music and culture he loved. His long running evening Jazz radio program emanated from Hyde Park.
Terry has worked with numerous musicians over the years – many familiar names, and some just starting out. Terry always gave the same 110% whatever the occasion. Frank Russell, a first-call bass player from Chicago says this about Terry Morrissette, “It was at Terry’s house where I met Randy Hall, Bobby Irving and Vince Wilburn. They had just done Miles Davis’ comeback album The Man With The Horn, and they were big heroes of mine. I played that record until the grooves wore out. That meeting was very monumental to me.”
More importantly, Terry Morrissette was like family in an even more visceral sense. We’re both proud uncles of the same nieces and nephews, since my youngest brother is wed to his youngest sister. Our holidays from both sides of our families were filled with music, singing, and playing. No one in the house could escape at least a chorus of some melody.
Terry has one beautiful daughter who was his pride and joy. Terry is one of four brothers, and he has two sisters. Younger brother Kevin Morrisette is a well known jazz pianist in the”Windy City,” and is in fact one of the Obamas’ favorites, so I’ve been told. From what I know and have heard of Kevin, I’m not surprised – he’s fantastic.
In recent years Terry was part of the worship music ensemble for a church on the Southside. Details of his funeral arrangements are forthcoming. R.I.P. Terry Morrissette. Well done and thank you for all the joy you brought to this world. Dennis Day 1/7/17
(Here is a YouTube link to one of the Ramsey Lewis recordings entitled “Sassy Stew” which Terry appears on drums as part of the Great RL Trio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9snFv0gJ9yE.)