Guitarist Justin Morell has succumb to his inner conflict between jazz and classical musics and composed a dozen pieces bowing to each in what may best be considered a jazz suite. This is not Gunther Schuller's "Third Stream" or the Modern Jazz Quartet's chamber jazz. It is a little bigger than that. Morell leads one of those provocative ensembles that is neither a big band or a small combo.
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
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.
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.