The Webber/Morris Big Band is a 19-piece ensemble founded five years ago by Canadian saxophonists and composers Anna Webber and Angela Morris. Both of them have made brilliant contributions to today’s jazz scene over the past decade. Both Are True, a work composed by four hands, shows us beyond any doubt that the talent of these two ladies is equal to their wild ambitions.
From the very beginning of “Climbing on Mirrors”, the first piece on the program, our ears wonder if they are not overwhelmed. Has the rhythm just picked up speed? Or has it just slowed down? This unpredictable way of playing with tempo is only one of the distinctive features here. Both composers also know how to play with the timbres and colours of their vast palette.
After a brief, improvised interlude woven by the saxophones of Webber and Morris, the action resumes with the title track, whose chaotic passages evoke the immoderation of Mingus. Then, “Rebounds” features Dustin Carlson’s noise-rock guitar that seems to play ping-pong with the rest of the orchestra. Another of the creative duo’s strengths is the deftness with which they use the particularities of each of their instrumentalists. Like trumpeter Adam O’Farrill’s demented breath on the layers of drone in “Coral”, or the Balkan flavour of another trumpeter, Kenny Warren’s playing on “Reverses”, which masterfully closes the album.
Drawing cheerfully from the sound of the big bands of the great era, the third stream, rock and contemporary music, Webber and Morris have conceived an album that renews the art of the great jazz ensemble, and impresses with its great beauty. The curious will be able to hear three excerpts on Bandcamp, but as these are the only three traces of this superb record on the web, you’ll have to buy it to hear it in its entirety.