POCKET GUIDES (2022) - debut album
Release Date: June 17th, 2022 on Origin/OA2 Records
Duration: ca. 1 hour
About the album:
Writing for his large, uniquely-voiced ensemble, and with Influences ranging from traditional Norwegian folk music, modern jazz, and contemporary classical music, composer/pianist Ben Morris' dynamic debut surprises and captivates. With his core group—Zosha Warpeha on Norwegian Hardanger fiddle and violin, Juan Olivares on clarinet, Dan Montgomery on bass, Evan Hyde on drums, and Ben on piano—he was invited to premier four original pieces at the Newport Jazz Festival in 2019, setting in motion the inspiration to expand the ensemble & compositions to create "Pocket Guides." With visions of bustling foreign cities, Norse mythology, tundra and waterways, Morris's music is cinematic, surprising and visceral, the rich textures reflecting his experiences living and studying in Norway, Korea, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, and now Colorado.
"Morris makes splendid use of every tool in his kit... making sure that everyone in the ensemble has an essential role to play. His themes are picturesque, at times esoteric, but always anchored in the jazz tradition, even when interposing Norse folk music or contemporary classical motifs. Most notably, they are fresh and original. While clever solos by most hands are sprinkled throughout, for the most part they are subordinate to Morris's luminous charts, from which they spring as naturally as water from a fountain... The verdict here is an emphatic thumbs up." — All About Jazz
"Inspired by his world travels, this is an impressionistic guide to spots around the world. Except he's doing it with a big band that plays in a way of his own devices that he writes and arranges for with an out of the ordinary, singular vision. A cat whose work plays it straight while coloring outside the lines, he wants to bring you into the tent and doesn't worry about the ars gratis artis effect. Fun stuff that works on a lot of levels." — Midwest Record
"An often cinematic affair that pulls in worldly influences from all parts of the globe that Morris has resided, this is an exceptional display of modern jazz. 9/10." — Take Effect