Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Frank Morelli / Keith Oxman: The Ox-Mo Incident


Frank Morelli / Keith Oxman: The Ox-Mo Incident


Sign in to view read count
Frank Morelli / Keith Oxman: The Ox-Mo Incident
East meets Midwest on The Ox-Mo Incident, wherein Denver-based tenor saxophonist Keith Oxman shares the front line with bassoonist Frank Morelli, whose day jobs include teaching at the renowned Juilliard School in New York City and several other citadels of higher education. Although it's a long trek from Juilliard and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (one of Morelli's sometime gigs) to working in a jazz quintet, Morelli's jazz chops are surprisingly keen, and he more than pulls his weight in spite of the bassoon's mostly deep and limited range (while it does have an upper register, that isn't its natural habitat).

The group rests for the most part in the familiar realm of Broadway, Hollywood and the Great American Songbook, with detours to accommodate Oxman's "Ox-Mo Incident" and "A Wasp in Search of a Hart and Lung," Gabriel Faure's poignant "Pavanne" and "Three for Five," a rephrasing of the third movement of Johannes Brahms' Symphony No. 3. Standards include the well-known "Happy Talk," "Full Moon and Empty Arms" (from Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2), "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top," a brace of themes taken from Alexander Borodin ("Baubles, Bangles and Beads" and "Stranger in Paradise"), another inspired by Giacomo Puccini ("Poor Butterfly") and one from Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady ("I Could Have Danced All Night"} The album's name (and title song) is a play on words, taken from the novel and film The Ox-Bow Incident, a grim narrative about a lynch mob's mistaken victims, superbly brought to the screen by Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Harry Morgan and others.

The quintet trades grim shades for blue skies on that one, as it does for the remainder of the session, where seldom is heard a discouraging word—or a less-than-felicitous frame of mind. Oxman's amiable tenor is smooth and lyrical, a splendid complement to Morelli's gruff and linear bassoon. The two are ably supported by pianist Jeff Jenkins, bassist Ken Walker and drummer Todd Reid who ensure their composure while giving them free rein to express themselves. If Morelli's bassoon sounds especially at home on "Pavanne," that's because he must have played that theme hundreds of times in other contexts. What is more unforeseen is his penchant for jazz and unassuming approach to the genre. Although a tenor/bassoon hybrid may appear somewhat strange at first blush, Oxman, Morelli and their mates make it work well beyond any presumed outcome. For those whose minds and ears are open to music whose artistry surpasses its disparity, a welcome even though unforeseen treat.


Keith Oxman
saxophone, tenor

Album information

Title: The Ox-Mo Incident | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Capri Records

< Previous
Let The Free Be Men




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.


8 Concepts of Tango
Hakon Skogstad
How Long Is Now
Christian Marien Quartett
Heartland Radio
Remy Le Boeuf’s Assembly of Shadows


Get more of a good thing!

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