Morris “Mo” Pleasure’s musical pedigree spans several genres – classical, sacred, jazz, Brazilian and funk are all strands of his musical DNA – and he finds expression through an equally impressive array of instruments. The instrumentalist, songwriter, arranger, and producer began playing piano when he was four. By the time he was a teenager he had become proficient in trumpet, guitar, drums and violin. Fresh out of UConn, he began his career playing bass with Ray Charles, and since those early years he has performed with some of the biggest names in jazz, R&B and pop such as George Duke, Natalie Cole, Dianne Reeves, Roberta Flack, and most recently Christina Aguilera, Michael Jackson and David Foster. Mo Pleasure has cultivated a legendary career as a “musician’s musician” while using his own solo work as a canvas for musical experimentation that is colorful and dynamic.
From 1989 through 1992, Mo was keyboardist and musical director with saxophonist Najee and vocalists Philip Bailey, Patti Austin and Jon Lucien. In 1993, he joined the legendary Earth, Wind & Fire, becoming the band’s musical director a year later. Mo then elevated to another echelon when he was featured playing keyboards, trumpet, and guitar with Janet Jackson’s 2001 “All For You” tour. As a principal member of the group Devoted Spirits, he played keyboards for Jimi Hendrix’s 60th Birthday Celebration and the “Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix” tour. In 2009, as keyboardist for Michael Jackson’s highly anticipated “This Is It” tour, he performed at the pop legend’s memorial concert in Los Angeles. Along with the rest of the This Is It band, Mo is immortalized in the eponymously titled film, the best-selling musical documentary of all time.
Since 2010, Mo has been a part of pop impresario David Foster’s coterie of preferred musicians, brought to his attention with a glowing recommendation from friend, collaborator and EWF legend Philip Bailey. He is a member of legendary Funk group Average White Band, a gig that allows him to show off his chops on bass, keys and guitar. His live performances with various artists at worldwide at major festivals including Montreux, North Sea, St. Lucia, Cancun, and Montreal, have earned Mo a following among devotees of soul, jazz and “grown folks’ music.” He has also made great use of his underrated classical chops as a concert pianist, performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra. Mo had the opportunity to combine his appreciation for dance and love of music when he played piano to accompany the Boston Ballet.
His TV and video performances include the Ray Charles BBC Special, Lopez Tonight, the Oprah Winfrey Show, BET on Jazz, VH1, the Tonight Show, the Earth, Wind & Fire documentary Shining Stars, the HBO special” Janet Jackson in Hawaii, and the David Foster and Friends PBS special filmed at Mandalay Bay. As a songwriter, his movie soundtrack credits include “Talkin'” featured in the Disney movie Three Men and a Little Lady and the EWF single “Cruisin,” heard in Spike Lee’s Get On The Bus. “Brazilian Rain,” a song co-written with Earth Wind & Fire bandmate, the legendary drummer Sonny Emory, was featured on Ramsey Lewis’s Urban Knights project. Embracing new media opportunities, Morris’s work can even be heard in Verizon’s “How Sweet The Sound” internet campaign.
Mo’s first offering as a solo artist, Elements of Pleasure, was released in 2006 to great critical acclaim. The release expanded his worldwide following and established him as a producer and multi-instrumentalist with an unmatched flair for synthesizing seemingly disparate elements into a single cohesive musical statement. Mo’s long-awaited second solo effort, Mo’Elements of Pleasure is a much more intimate work, drawing upon years of personal experiences all over the world. Two of Mo’s collaborative efforts were released independently in 2005: Devoted Spirits’ Tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire and Audio Caviar’s Transoceanic, a collaboration that showcases Mo’s versatility on piano, bass, trumpet, and flugelhorn.
In addition to his solo activity, Mo is the fourth member of Native Son, a band of all-stars including John “JR” Robinson (drums), Bobby Watson (bass) and Michael Thompson (guitar). Their debut project, Son Talk, explores the intersections between jazz, funk and rock.