JazzTimes is honored to premiere “Climbing on Mirrors” by the Webber/Morris Big Band, a five-year-old, 18-piece ensemble co-led by saxophonists, flutists, and composers Anna Webber and Angela Morris. This particular piece was composed by Webber and will be the opening track on the ensemble’s upcoming album Both Are True, to be released by Dave Douglas’ Greenleaf Music label on April 3.
Besides Webber and Morris, the band features alto saxophonist/clarinetist Charlotte Greve, the principal soloist on this track; Jay Rattman on alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, and flute; Adam Schneit on tenor saxophone and clarinet; Lisa Parrott on baritone saxophone and bass clarinet; John Lake, Jake Henry, Adam O’Farrill, and Kenny Warren on trumpets and flugelhorns; Tim Vaughn, Nick Grinder, and Jen Baker on trombones; Reginald Chapman on bass trombone; Patricia Brennan on vibraphone; Dustin Carlson on guitar; Marc Hannaford on piano; Adam Hopkins on bass; and Jeff Davis on drums.
While the band’s instrumentation is more or less traditional, the music—as you can hear—is anything but. Both Are True‘s nine original pieces by Webber and Morris integrate improvisation and composed material in unorthodox ways and use extra-musical sources such as poetry and mathematics, mutating the big-band sound into something unpredictable and exciting.
Of this track, Webber says: “‘Climbing on Mirrors’ gets its title from the Italian phrase ‘arrampicarsi sugli specchi,’ a phrase which I learned from an Italian bassist friend. The phrase essentially means that someone is arguing impossibilities when they’ve been caught in an embarrassing situation, in order to try to desperately get themselves out of it—I was told it often applies to political corruption, and so that is what the title means to me. Though I wrote this piece several years ago, it seems that every time it gets played, the title is more and more appropriate to the current political situation, maybe never more so than now. Despite that, this piece offers a hopeful ending to this impossibly difficult time.”