In conjunction with saxophonist and longtime collaborator Dick Morrissey, guitarist Jim Mullen spearheaded the British jazz-fusion movement of the 1970s. Born November 26, 1945 in Glasgow, Scotland, Mullen acquired his first guitar at age eight, soon after discovering jazz through an older friend. Although he later studied journalism, he remained a fixture of the local jazz circuit, ultimately forming a group with tenor saxophonist Malcolm Duncan and keyboardist Roger Ball. Mullen relocated to London in 1969, joined Pete Brown's Piblokto!, and then signed on with Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, cementing his credentials in the nascent jazz-rock culture. Stints with Vinegar Joe and Kokomo followed, and in the early 1970s he also collaborated with Duncan and Ball in their blue-eyed funk unit the Average White Band. Via the AWB, Mullen met Morrissey, a veteran of the much-respected jazz-rock vehicle If. In 1977, they teamed as a duo for Up, embracing everything from bop to pop to funk and found favor with listeners on both sides of the jazz-rock dyad via acclaimed efforts such as 1979's Cape Wrath. In all, Morrissey and Mullen co-headlined six albums, which increasingly veered towards the mainstream, but never earned the American commercial foothold that would have vaulted their career to the next level. Morrissey and Mullen finally split following 1988's Happy Hour, and Mullen went on to work with vocalist Claire Martin. He also headlined a series of LPs including Rule of Thumb and Soundbites. An in-demand sideman, Mullen backed American giants including Mose Allison, Jimmy Smith, and Terry Callier. In the summer of 2000, he reunited with Morrissey, just months prior to the Morrissey's death from spinal cancer.
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