Composer and guitarist Justin Morell is originally from Los Angeles where he developed his craft working with some of the finest musicians in the area, including Bob Florence, John Daversa, Todd Sickafoose, Alan Ferber, and the Dave Pell Octet. He appears on various TV scores, jingles, and film scores, including the John Williams score for Stephen Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can. His composition for jazz and concert ensembles draws upon both jazz and popular music styles as well as classical concepts and forms.
In 2021, Morell and his collaborator John Daversa released the orchestral jazz trumpet concerto All Without Words, which was met with much critical acclaim and premiered under the artistic direction of Maria Schneider at the Henry Mancini Institute in Miami. The piece is a reflection on Morell’s experience raising a non-verbal autistic son in the form of a theme and eleven variations. The theme is composed around the vocalizations of his son Loren.
Justin’s Concerto for Guitar and Jazz Orchestra was released December 2018 on ArtistShare. It features guitarist Adam Rogers and the University of Miami Frost Concert Jazz Band, directed by John Daversa. In 2013, Justin released Subjects and Complements, a collection of new works for ten-piece jazz ensemble. The recording features world-renowned jazz and classical performers Bob Sheppard, Ben Wendel, Matt Otto, Phil O’Connor, John Daversa, Alan Ferber, George Thatcher, Leonard Thompson, Damian Erskine, and Mark Ferber. Featuring bassist Todd Sickafoose and pianist Leonard Thompson, triOrange, has been met with praise since its release in the Fall of 2003. the music of steely_dan, his fourth project as a leader, was chosen as one of the best CDs of 2002 by NPR’s third largest radio station, WBEZ Chicago.
“Justin Morell should be considered for inclusion in the top tier of jazz guitarists, along with Metheny and Bill Frisell, while his Exit Music For Intelligent Life On Earth is a likely candidate for inclusion in 2022’s Best Jazz Records of the Year.” — Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz.
Recent commissions include a mixed ensemble work celebrating the sesquicentennial of Lebanon Valley College, a song cycle for baritone and string quartet for the Pacific Serenades concert series in Los Angeles, and several new arrangements for saxophone and jazz ensemble premiered at the North American Saxophone Alliance. Justin has had works performed by Fireworks Ensemble, the Oregon Jazz Ensemble, the Onyx String Quartet, ECCE (Eugene Contemporary Chamber Orchestra), the University of Oregon Saxophone Quartet, and has had pieces premiered at the Composers’, Inc., concert series, the Oregon Composers Forum, and Bargemusic in New York. Justin holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon where he studied under Robert Kyr and David Crumb.
- 2022 – Exit Music for Intelligent Life on Earth (Sonic Frenzy Records)
- 2021 – All Without Words: variations inspired by Loren (Tiger Turn Productions)
- 2018 – Concerto for Guitar and Jazz Orchestra (Frost Concert Jazz Ensemble, featuring Adam Rogers (ArtistShare Records)
- 2013 – Dectet, Subjects and Complements
- 2009 – jmq live at rocco’s (Sonic Frenzy Records) featuring Mark Ferber, Todd Sickafoose, and Joe Bagg
- 2004 – duOrange (Sonic Frenzy Records) with pianist Leonard Thompson
- 2003 – triOrange (Sonic Frenzy Records) featuring Todd Sickafoose and Leonard Thompson
- 2002 – the music of Steely Dan (Sonic Frenzy Records) with John Guerin, John Daversa, Todd Sicakfoose, and Tom Peterson
- 2002 – Owl Sessions with Mark Ferber and Phil O’Connor
- 2000 – Septet (Sonic Frenzy Records) with John Guerin, John Daversa, Todd Sickafoose, Alan Ferber, and others
- 1996 – Quartet (Challenge Records) with Peter Erskine, Russell Ferrante, and Jimmy Johnson
- Music Theory I and II
- Jazz Theory
- Music Theory Lab
- Fundamentals of Music
- Valley Jazz Orchestra
- Modern Band