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  • Jonathan Widran

JOHN DAVERSA JAZZ ORCHESTRA featuring Justin Morell, All Without Words, variations inspired by Loren

Since earning three Grammy nominations for his album Kaleidoscope Eyes: Music of the Beatles in 2017, multi-talented veteran trumpeter, bandleader and educator John Daversa has gone artistically bold in (literally) large and small ways, addressing the DACA issue with his epic, three time Grammy winning big band epic American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom and stripping down to a quintet for the pandemic-inspired Cuarantena: With Family at Home.

On his fascinating conceptual new work All Without Words, variations inspired by Loren – attributed to the John Daversa Jazz Orchestra featuring (guitarist/composer) Justin Morell – Daversa communicates a powerful uplifting message by fusing the best of both these approaches, gorgeously and artfully blending the expansive expressions of a large scale strings and woodwind driven orchestra with the intimacy of a five piece jazz quintet featuring his deeply soulful and lyrical lead trumpet and featuring Morell, who conceived and composed the stylistically and rhythmically diverse and impressionistic 12 track set after Daversa asked him to create a large-scale orchestral jazz piece.

As song titles like “Searching But Never Finding,” “Two Steps Forward,” “The Urgency of Every Moment” and “Learning Simply To Be” thematically illuminate throughout, Morell’s inspiration for the compositions is his autistic son Loren, who struggled with the basics of communication from a very young age and lost his ability to speak by the time he was three. With passion, whimsy, solemness, purposefulness, and moments of darkness offset by soaring, enduring hope, All Without Words pays tribute to the great joys, triumphs, magical moments, grand breakthroughs and harsh, steep challenges intrinsic to raising a now 16-year-old boy.

Logistically, a big part of the story is recording such a grand session with some of South Florida’s top musicians under pandemic-era studio protocols. But more deeply and enduringly, But the deeper story is the love of a father (Morell) turning the beautiful singing sounds his son (Loren) is able to make and using those as a foundation for the lush, meditative and sparkle filled opening theme (“Loren’s Theme”) that launched the album’s eleven variations.

Besides the sheer enjoyment of listening to Daversa, Morell and a community of dedicated musicians for an hour, the collection serves as a heartfelt, loving way to understand just how music is somehow able to communicate what mere spoken words can only attempt to. Following Daversa on his amazing musical journey since the Beatles has been as fascinating as it must have been seeing and hearing the Beatles venture from one surreal twist to the next back in the late 60’s.


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