Lawrence D. Butch Morris

This morning great musical thinker Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris passed away at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Fort Hamilton section of Brooklyn following a struggle with cancer. He was 65 years old. Though Morris started out as a cornetist—first in his native California, later in New York—he was known best for “conduction,” a term he borrowed from physics to describe a way of organizing, shaping, and leading group improvisation. He developed an interest in doing so in 1971, after moving from Los Angeles to Oakland; he began working with jazz drummer Charles Moffett, who used a basic set of gestures to spontaneously alter the performance of a given piece. But it wasn’t until 1976, when Morris arrived in New York and got involved with the loft-jazz scene, that his concept of conduction came together.