In a program developed over five years, conductor-composer-tenor saxophonists Anna Webber and Angela Morris bring together nineteen musicians for a monumental evening of improvised music. Webber and Morris aim to highlight the virtuosity of this ensemble of young musicians, with pieces that draw influence from diverse sources including poetry, early blues, games of chance, number theory, and life experience. In the spirit of their mentors, John Hollenbeck and Darcy James Argue, Webber and Morris, compose music that blurs the lines between composed and improvised while maintaining a strong narrative arc. This performance is a precursor to the ensemble’s debut album, to be released by Greenleaf Music.
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
Jake Henry: trumpet
Adam O’Farrill: trumpet
Kenny Warren: trumpet
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
Anna Webber and Angela Morris, two composer-performers whose music overturns expectations for the jazz big band, have co-led this ensemble of stellar New York improvisers since 2015. The band’s instrumentation is a jazz staple, but the composers’ respective pieces are equally rooted in minimalism, pop, noise, and other music of the past century or so. Integrating improvisation and composed material in unorthodox ways and using extra-musical sources – such as poetry or mathematics – to form the foundation of new works, the traditional big band sound mutates into something unpredictable. It also happens that both women are adept saxophonists who take turns filling the tenor chair while the other conducts her own works. Greenleaf Music, Dave Douglas’ imprint, will release their debut recording next year.
Anna Webber is a New York-based flutist, saxophonist, and composer whose interests and work live the overlap between avant-garde jazz and new classical music. With her Simple Trio, featuring drummer John Hollenbeck and pianist Matt Mitchell, she has released two critically acclaimed albums on Skirl Records: Binary (2016) and SIMPLE (2014). A 2018 Guggenheim Fellow, Webber’s other projects include the Webber/Morris Big Band, her septet Percussive Mechanics, Jagged Spheres with Devin Gray and Elias Stemeseder, and The Hero of Warchester with Nathaniel Morgan and Liz Kosack. She has performed and/or recorded with bands led by Dan Weiss, Jen Shyu, Matt Mitchell, Ohad Talmor, John Hollenbeck, Ches Smith, Hank Roberts, Harris Eisenstadt, Adam Hopkins, and Erik Hove. She has additionally been awarded grants from the Shifting Foundation (2015) and residencies from the MacDowell Colony (2017), the Millay Colony for the Arts (2015), and the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts (2014). In 2014 she won the BMI Foundation Charlie Parker Composition Prize as a member of the BMI Jazz Composers’ Workshop.
If Brooklyn’s music circles draw a Venn diagram, Angela Morris thrives in the loop between avant-jazz and pop. The composer and multi-instrumentalist have performed throughout North America and Europe. Her vocal group Rallidae released their new album, Turned, and Was, in November 2016 on the NYC- based label Gold Bolus Recordings; their debut Paper Birds was praised as “an exceptional debut by an exciting and innovative new band.” Morris is a member of Motel and TMT Trio, two collaborative ensembles that each released albums in 2017: like you always do, I always did too by Motel (Prom Night Records), and Star Ballad by TMT Trio. Morris composes and co-leads several groups, including the 18-piece Webber/Morris Big Band. She is an alumna of the BMI Jazz Composer’s Workshop led by Jim McNeely and studied composition with the Grammy-nominated jazz composer Darcy James Argue. In addition to her own projects, she performs with Helado Negro, Jason Ajemian’s Folk-Lords, Myra Melford, and Jessica Pavone.