Morris came to attention with saxophonist David Murray's groups in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Morris' brother, double bassist Wilbur Morris sometimes perfomed and recorded with Murray during this period.
Morris has gained more notice and acclaim directing various ensembles in what he calls Conduction: a type of structured improvisation where Morris directs and conducts an improvising ensemble with a series of hand and baton gestures. These conductions are generally considered quite unique. (Critic Thom Jurek has written, "There are no records like Butch Morris' conduction sides, nor could there be, though he wishes there were.")
Drummer Charles Moffett conducted improvisations of jazz musicians in the 1970's, and Morris credits Moffett as a major influence.
In his travels and many recorded conductions, Morris has worked with a wide variety of musicians. A partial list of such musicians follows, but special note should be made of frequent collaborator J.A. Deane, and his innovative use of live sampling.