Merritt soon spread his "on the road" wings with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, including some memorable recording dates, and then did seminal work with Max Roach, also playing with many other groups during that career-expanding period. During his extended stays in his home town, Merritt established workshops called "Forerunners," playing a major role in keeping the Philly jazz scene alive and well. He continues to do the workshops at age 83, still going strong as a musician, composer and mentor.
On July 12th, 2009, at the Jazz Fair produced by pianist and Chairman of the University of the Arts Jazz Department Don Glanden and sponsored by the university and the Philadelphia Jazz Heritage Project, Merritt, along with keyboardist Trudy Pitts, received an award for lifetime achievement.
That occasion prompted the following interview with him, which is filled with memories and perspectives that only a totally immersed and committed musician such as Merritt could bring with him to a conversation. As will be apparent in the interview, his love of the music is matched only by his personal warmth and introspective intelligence.