With the modern availability of inexpensive recording technology, seemingly anyone can turn out a jazz release. It is, accordingly, a pleasure when a release comes about marked by superior craftsmanship. Blue Is More Than A Color, a jazz orchestra disc, is a fine example of not only excellent sound (not an easy task with 26 pieces) but smart compositions, skillful arrangements and impressive soloing. The recording is the brainchild of composer and bassist Dave Morgan, a mainstay of the north-east Ohio jazz scene. Morgan has gathered together some extraordinary talent including saxophonist Pete Mills, trumpeter Jack Schantz, pianist Theron Brown and guitarist Brandon Coleman.
The seven compositions were penned by Morgan with, as you might guess, the solos divided between his guests. Opening with "Point Of Beginning," and its insistent pulse of electric piano, percussion and some wordless vocals by Amanda Powell, Pete Mills glides his tenor saxophone over a tranquil sea of sound. Morgan's arrangements hush the power of his orchestra throughout the recording to draw out the sensations, spicing solos with just the right flavors. Here Mills' saxophones dances with Powell's vocals and the determined pulse of Morgan's bass. Like other renowned orchestras, those of Charlie Haden, Carla Bley and Russ Gershon's Either/Orchestra, the whole is complete only by a skillful assembly of its pieces. Elsewhere, the title track arrives on a bed of flutes and clement horns, before venturing into a Miles Davis/Gil EvansSketches Of Spain (Columbia, 1960) vibe. Like the arrangements of Evans, Morgan has no use for boundaries between jazz, classical and world music. Here Schantz' trumpet delivers a clear crisp solo before turning duties over to trombonist Chris Anderson. The same brightness is spread throughout. The quirky "Jungian Slip" fits nicely with the tight swinging "Cosmology." Morgan has built a joyful noise and captured it in technicolor.
Point of Beginning; Blue Is More Than a Color; Jungian Slip; Coisa Nova; In This Moment; You Never Were; Cosmology.
Dave Morgan: composer, arranger, leader, bass; Scott McKee: trumpet; J.D. Chaisson: trumpet; Joe Badaczewski: trumpet; Jack Schantz: trumpet; Howie Smith: alto sax; Nathan-Paul Davis: alto sax; Kent Engelhardt: alto sax, clarinet; Chris Coles: tenor sax; Dave Kana: tenor sax; Pete Mills: tenor sax, clarinet; Dan Heasley: tenor sax, flute; Brad Wagner: alto, baritone sax, clarinet; Chris Anderson: trombone; Sam Blakeslee: trombone; Jason Hadgis: trombone; Hakeem Bilal: bass trombone; Theron Brown: piano; Brandon Scott Coleman: guitar; Isaac Hraga: guitar; Dan Mihelarakis: guitar; Jim Rupp: drums; Glenn Schaft: drums, percussion; Anthony Taddeo: drums, percussion; Rex Benincasa: percussion; Amanda Powell: voice.