Guitarist and composer Justin Morell received his BA from UCLA, an MA from California State University East Bay, and his Ph.D. from the University of Oregon where he studied under Robert Kyr and David Crumb. While his main interests are composition and jazz performance, he is an experienced guitarist of all styles. Justin comes from a family of musicians: His father, John, is a jazz guitarist who has worked with noted artists from Shelly Manne to Miles Davis, and his grandfather, Carl Fischer, composed such standards as “You’ve Changed” and “We’ll Be Together Again.”

Justin grew up in Los Angeles and got his start as a professional musician there where he worked with a number of notable jazz and studio musicians. During that time, he performed as a freelance guitarist on a variety of jazz projects as well as on television and movie soundtracks. In 2001, Justin moved to Oakland, CA, where he continued to perform and compose music. During his four years there, he performed at jazz venues, premiered new classical works, played in pit orchestras, and studied composition with Frank LaRocca.  He later moved to Eugene and Portland, OR, where he freelanced as a guitarist, composer, and teacher. Justin is Associate Professor of Music in composition and theory at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania.

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, he 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 (more).  Featuring bassist Todd Sickafoose and pianist Leonard Thompson, triOrange, has been met with critical acclaim 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.

In 2005, Justin had the privilege of traveling to Denmark where his piece, “Jazz Ensemble,” won third place in the Danish Radio Big Band International Thad Jones Competition. It was one of five finalists chosen among more than one hundred submissions, and was performed in a live broadcast from Copenhagen.

Recent commissions include:  five new arrangements of original works by saxophonist Idit Shner, a song cycle for baritone and string quartet for the Pacific Serenades concert series in Los Angeles, a work for large jazz ensemble for the Portland Jazz Composers’ Ensemble, and new music for saxophone, bass and guitar premiered at the North American Saxophone Alliance convention in Arizona. Justin has had works performed by Fireworks Ensemble, the Oregon Jazz Ensemble, SO Percussion, 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 can also be heard on CDs, television, and film as a guitarist and as a drummer, as well as recording engineer and producer. Some projects he’s worked on include Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me if You Can, Lifetime Original Movies, TV sitcom The Naked Truth, the Lion King-San Francisco, and various TV and radio jingles.

Justin’s list of concert works includes: a symphony, a string quartet, a saxophone quartet, a chamber sinfonia, a percussion ensemble (for two pianos and four percussionists), a large chamber winds piece, compositions for large jazz ensemble, and a number of smaller chamber works.

Justin plays a bunch of guitars including a Gibson ES335 and a Carruthers custom long neck.  He also plays Fender and Rivera amps, D’Addario strings, and has a ton of small guitar gadgets.