WEBBER / MORRIS BIG BAND - BOTH ARE TRUE


…a jagged-edged band that has begun to turn musicians’ heads.” – Giovanni Russonello, New York Times

Anna Webber and Angela Morris, two composer-performers whose music overturns expectations for the jazz big band, co-lead the Webber/Morris Big Band, an ensemble of stellar New York improvisers that perform their original music.

Their debut album, Both Are True, will be released on April 3, 2020.

Pre-order now on Bandamp | iTunes | Amazon

Stream the track “Rebonds” on Spotify | Apple Music

The heyday of the big band is over. The era when the 18 musicians in a swing band could tour the country together and each make a living (a 52-week salary, in fact) playing the music of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Bennie Goodman, or the Dorsey Brothers is a thing of the past. So, is the big band dead in 2020? Far from it. NYC-based saxophonists Anna Webber and Angela Morris are at the forefront of a wave of young, modern composers dead-set on pushing the historic art form into the future. The situation has changed, however. Leading a big band in 2020 is an undertaking of pure passion, a labor of love. It is no longer a feasible way to make a living as a musician, or a possible path to widespread international recognition and fortune as the composer/bandleader. In fact, it is nearly impossible to not lose money on such a venture. Composing and arranging for big band takes a considerable amount of time, and simply getting 18 musicians in one room for a performance, not to mention rehearsals, is a daunting task to put it mildly. Yet there is a small but persistent new class of composers who, despite all of the difficulties presented by this pursuit, are committed (addicted even) to exploring the compositional possibilities that only this large ensemble formation offers. New York Times jazz journalist Giovanni Russonello referred to the big band as “a vessel of grandiose possibility,” and enthusiasts of modern jazz are fortunate to witness this new class revolutionize what is possible, harnessing the power of this classic ensemble in ways never before heard.

While there is a precedent for what they are doing, no other ensemble sounds quite like the Webber/Morris Big Band, an 18-piece ensemble comprised of NYC’s brightest and most in-demand improvisers mostly under the age of 40. While I’m sure both would cite Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and other composers from the golden era of big band as influences, their main inspiration can be more directly traced to the modern large ensembles of John Hollenbeck (with whom Webber studied composition), Darcy James Argue (with whom Morris studied composition), Maria Schneider, Jim McNeely, and Bob Brookmeyer. The debut album Both Are True will firmly place Webber and Morris in the next generation of NYC’s elite large-ensemble composer/bandleaders alongside Miho Hazama, Brian Krock, Remy LeBoeuf, and Jihye Lee, all who have received international acclaim for modern big band albums released in the past five years. Like all of these young composers Webber and Morris draw musical influence from outside of the scope of the traditional big band. From Morris’ minimalist leanings on “Coral,” which features an extended trumpet improvisation by Adam O’Farrill over a dilatory wash of chords, to Webber’s nod to Iannis Xenakis on “Rebonds,” during which guitarist Dustin Carlson will surely win the hearts of any fans of David Torn or Marc Ducret (fans of Webber may recall that her critically acclaimed Clockwise was written entirely in homage to her favorite percussion pieces by 20th century composers). There are countless additional examples throughout the album—the noise intro on “And It Rolled Right Down,” the vocal chorale to close “Climbing On Mirrors” (yes, the whole band sings), or Webber’s minute-long multiphonic improvisation before launching a tour de force solo over Morris’ prodding background figures on the title track “Both Are True.” The list goes on. In a 2019 interview with Kurt Gottschalk, Webber says the goal is to “try to make it sound the least like big-band music as possible,” and Morris quite aptly follows with, “It’s an interesting challenge to take a form that has a legacy and try to do something new with it.” Seems to hit the nail on the head, and it is a challenge that both Webber and Morris successfully conquer track after track on Both Are True.

Track Details

1. Climbing On Mirrors (10:45, Webber)
2. Duo 1 (0:48, Webber/Morris)
3. Both Are True (10:16, Morris)
4. Rebonds (3:10, Webber)
5. Coral (10:06, Morris)
6. And It Rolled Right Down (6:36, Morris)
7. Foggy Valley (3:48, Webber/Morris/Morgan)
8. Duo 2 (1:26, Webber/Morris)
9. Reverses (11:39, Webber, Text by Maya Angelou)

Personnel

Angela Morris: conductor, tenor saxophone, flute
Anna Webber: conductor, tenor saxophone, flute
Jay Rattman: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute
Charlotte Greve: alto saxophone, clarinet
Adam Schneit: tenor saxophone, clarinet
Lisa Parrott: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet
John Lake: trumpet, flugelhorn
Jake Henry: trumpet, flugelhorn
Adam O’Farrill: trumpet, flugelhorn
Kenny Warren: trumpet, flugelhorn
Tim Vaughn: trombone
Nick Grinder: trombone
Jen Baker: trombone
Reginald Chapman: bass trombone
Patricia Brennan: vibraphone
Dustin Carlson: guitar
Marc Hannaford: piano
Adam Hopkins: bass
Jeff Davis: drums

Production Credits

Recorded on Nov 27, 2018 by Stephe Cooper at Roulette Intermedium in Brooklyn, NY except tracks 2, 7, 8 recorded on October 20,
2019 by Nathaniel Morgan at Buckminster Forest
Edited and mixed by Nathaniel Morgan at Buckminster Palace
Executive Producer: Dave Douglas
Produced by Angela Morris, Anna Webber, and Nathaniel Morgan
Mastered by Brent Lambert at The Kitchen
Art and design by Brian Henkel

Compositions © Anna Webber (SOCAN/ASCAP) and / or © Angela Morris (SOCAN/ASCAP)
Except:
“Foggy Valley” © Anna Webber (SOCAN/ASCAP), Angela Morris (SOCAN/ASCAP), and Nathaniel Morgan (ASCAP)
“Reverses” © Anna Webber (SOCAN/ASCAP) and Caged Bird Legacy (ASCAP)

Press Inquiries

Adam Hopkins
Far Cry Publicity
farcrypublicity@gmail.com

Press Quotes

“Anna Webber and Angela Morris are a pair of unclassifiable multi-instrumentalists – they each play tenor saxophone and flute, among other things — who recently joined forces to form a big band. It should come as no surprise that this ensemble does a few things differently; I expect that some heads will turn when their debut album, Both Are True, sees release.”
– Nate Chinen, WBGO, Take Five Feature

“…a jagged-edged band that has begun to turn musicians’ heads.”
– Giovanni Russonello, New York Times

“They write to take full advantage of the ensemble, working in dynamics that only a big band could manage…In a sense, the
Webber/Morris Big Band is a distillation of the community they discovered and have helped develop.”
– Kurt Gottschalk, Musicworks