Joe Morris Quartet

A Cloud of Black Birds

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Violinist Mat Maneri, bassist Chris Lightcap, and drummer Jerome Deupree join the adventurous Joe Morris on these seven tracks. The music is intense and challenging, but it has a certain airiness -- unlike when, say, Matthew Shipp and William Parker are in the picture. The Maneri-Morris combo makes for arresting contrasts in string timbre, particularly on their one duet, "Renascent," where Morris manages to sound almost like a tabla drum. "Threshold" and "Radiant Flux" have coherent melodies and feature the rhythm section at their best, grooving in a fractured yet propulsive way. Morris makes yet more timbral discoveries on the title track, over a mid-tempo swing feel. As for the "cloud of black birds" in question, it's part of a difficult childhood memory that Morris shares eloquently in his liner notes.

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