The father of saxman/Unity leader Byron Morris, the late James William "Jim Billy" Morris was an alto and tenor saxophonist, arranger and composer who was active in Roanoke, VA for much of his life. Morris was a young adult when he left Roanoke for Philadelphia, where he lived in the early to mid-1940s and played swing during the World War II years. After the War, Morris returned to Roanoke, and in 1947, he founded the Aristocrats Orchestra, a big band along the lines of Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Although little known nationally, the Aristocrats were a popular regional attraction that enjoyed a following in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina from the late 1940s until their breakup in 1960. Morris was ten days away from his 69th birthday when he died on Feb. 8, 1985.
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