Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Anna Webber: Rectangles


Anna Webber: Rectangles


View read count
Anna Webber: Rectangles
Canadian saxophonist Anna Webber's quartet provides a second winning entry in Out Of Your Head Records' digital Untamed series, following Nick Dunston's Atlantic Extraction: Live At Threes (2020). Webber calls the band Rectangles after a composition inspired by a sequence of 10-second videos on the YouTube test channel Webdriver Torso which consist of a string of high pitches coupled with images of red and blue rectangles flashing across the screen. If that premise sounds unpromising, the execution is anything but.

Webber included the same composition in three varying guises on Binary (Skirl, 2016) by her Simple Trio (with pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer John Hollenbeck). All the charts on that album were derived in various ways from things found on the internet. Although The Simple Trio never performed "Rectangles 3" live, Webber found the constituent single measure loops so stimulating and fun that she put together a band to play an entire set comprising nothing else.

This 34-minute live recording from Queens in December 2019, captured on pianist Marc Hannaford's portable Zoom recorder, emphatically realizes her ambition. Webber draws all the members of the quartet from the Big Band, which she jointly helms with fellow countrywoman and reed player Angela Morris, responsible for the excellent Both Are True (Greenleaf, 2020). Completed by bassist Adam Hopkins and drummer Mark Ferber, the foursome places the repeating structures under the microscope and discover a world of possibilities.

Straight from Webber's unaccompanied gitgo, where she calmly reiterates and elaborates a simple phrase, before zigzagging between the registers in increasingly animated fashion, it's clear that with sufficient imagination the potential for individual expression within the constraints of the piece is boundless. It's minimalism on steroids. Her band is a tight unit, but still able to effortlessly shift between group improvisation and highly structured notation.

Webber marshals overlapping layers of activity, so that as one metric cell ends, there's another already in motion to maintain the relentless momentum. Amid the ceaseless flow, Webber finds opportunities to explore the saxophone tradition, variously jazzy and driving, investigating extended techniques along the way, often integrating or reinforcing the rhythmic motifs while doing so. Webber apart the band enjoys, not so much solos as vignettes, shining briefly before the caravan moves on.

It's worth noting that in the time of COVID-19 all proceeds from Untamed sales are given directly to the artists, and OOYH Records will be donating an additional dollar per album sold to organizations of the artists' choosing.

In its selfless focus and concentration on limited materials, the set recalls Ahmed's stunning Super Majnoon (East Meets West) (Otoroku, 2019), and the outcome is similarly thrilling.

Track Listing

Rectangles 3.


Anna Webber
composer / conductor

Album information

Title: Rectangles | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Out Of Your Head

Next >



For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.


Flávio Silva
Ellie Lee
Pra você, Ilza
Hermeto Pascoal & Grupo


My Prophet
Oded Tzur
Time Again
Koppel, Blade, Koppel
September Night
Tomasz Stanko Quartet

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.