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During the past few years, veteran trumpeter, bandleader and educator John Daversa has drawn on his expansive vision and musical resources to boldly address two defining issues of our times — DACA (via his three-time Grammy-winning American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom) and the pandemic (stripping down to a quintet for Cuarantena: With Family at Home). On his lush and intimate orchestral jazz collection, All Without Words, Variations Inspired by Loren — attributed to the John Daversa Orchestra featuring guitarist-composer Justin Morell — he shares a thoughtful, uplifting message of hope and the power of communication in its many forms by fusing both grand and small-scale approaches.
Daversa artfully blends the wide-ranging expressions of an orchestra — replete with strings, brass, woodwinds and choir — with the intimacy of a jazz quintet, utilizing his soulful, lyrical and often boisterous lead trumpet and a rhythm section featuring Morell. It was the guitarist who conceived and composed the diverse, impressionistic program after Daversa asked him to create a large-scale orchestral jazz piece. Song titles such as “Searching But Never Finding,” “Two Steps Forward,” “The Urgency of Every Moment” and “Learning Simply To Be” thematically illuminate Morell’s inspiration for the compositions: his autistic son, Loren, who struggled with the basics of traditional speech from a very young age and lost his ability to speak by the time he was three.
With equal parts whimsy and solemnity, and moments of darkness offset by soaring, enduring hope, All Without Words celebrates the joys, triumphs, key breakthroughs and steep challenges intrinsic to raising the now 16-year-old boy. It’s a moving love story of a father turning the beautiful singing sounds his son is able to make into an expression of hope, using those voicings as a foundation for the lush, meditative and sparkling opener, “Loren’s Theme,” which launches the album’s eleven variations.