About Norval Morton
Like Johnny "Guitar" Watson or John "Drumbo" French, Norval "Flutes" Morton's nickname provides an indication of what sort of instrument he will probably carry to a gig. In Morton's case the moniker is a bit incomplete, leaving out the saxophones and clarinets with which this historic jazz figure from Chicago also made his living. The flute most likely got special attention simply because in the first few decades of jazz history, the light and breathy instrument got little use as either an ensemble or soloing axe.
The date of Morton's birth has been narrowed down to the very early 20th century, the locale unspecific. He died in Detroit in the early '60s but the most important part of his professional music career seems to have been in the '20s and '30s, at least on the basis of discographical debris. Morton performed regularly in the earlier decade with bandleaders such as Erskine Tate and Dave Peyton, and also got in on expanded Chicago ensembles put together for brief visits from stars Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines. In the '30s Morton performed with Eddie King, Reuben Reeves, and Noble Sissle, among others.
Recorded evidence of Morton's involvement with various bands continues to grow as new anthologies are placed in the racks featuring Fess Williams and Tiny Parham as well as live recordings from Armstrong's early Chicago stints. Benny Morton, not to be confused with the famous trombonist of the same name, was the brother of Flutes Morton and a saxophonist as well -- although not a flutist. Speaking of confusion, biographer John Chilton spells the given name of Flutes Morton as "Norvel" rather than "Norval." ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi