Justin Morell: Justin Morell Dectet - Subjects and Compliments (2013)
There is orchestral magic between seven- and eleven- member groups that cast the music they perform against a sonic white background, where ingenuity and talent are necessary to fill in the spaces with color. Miles Davis's Nonet and Art Pepper's + Eleven fall into this category, as well as Morell's dectet.
Morell weaves among straight compositions a series of fugues in multiple voices. Here he uses his reeds section to great effect often with a single reed as a voice. The most complex of these is "Fugue in E-flat, in five voices." It is the most dissonant piece on the recording using percussion and bass as two of the voices in the fugue. The result is a highly listenable piece of music that explores as much as it entertains.
"The Straight Man" follows, continuing the edgy anxiety of the fugue and giving the mood a decidedly noire feel. So much of Morell's music here has a cinematic quality that is very appealing. This little-big band recording is very good and highly accessible.
Track Listing: Noun Ember; Fugue in B, In Three Voices; The Wobbler; O; Fugue in B- flat, In Three Voices; Fugue in E-flat, In Five Voices; The Straight Man; Fugue in E, In Four Voices; Sun Subtle; Fugue in C, In Three Voices; Sang.
Personnel: Bob Sheppard: alto and soprano saxophones; Ben Wendel: tenor saxophone, bassoon; Matt Otto: tenor saxophone; Phil O’Connor: bass clarinet, tenor and soprano saxophones; John Daversa: trumpet and flugelhorn; Alan Ferber: trombone; George Thatcher: bass trombone; Justin Morell: guitar; Leonard Thompson: piano; Damian Erskine: bass; Mark Ferber: drums.
Record Label: Self Produced