Joe Morris


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Electric guitarist Joe Morris utilizes a self-described open-ended, melodic improvisation that is contemplative, yet intense. Colorfield is a recording that also stresses shades and tones as the title and the titles suggest, but under the surface, there's also a sincere desire to collectively and effectively communicate. Morris has chosen two musicians from similar perspectives in the facile, rising star pianist Steve Lantner and potent New Orleans born/Boston resident, drummer Luther Gray, to make this incredibly cohesive and free music. A cool flame and steady handedness exist in this modern creative jazz, beautifully conceived in many ways, consistently dynamic but never gaudy. The clarity of ideas during "Transparency" are fully realized in a free bop framework, with the sure-footed, midtempo, loose, and patient drumming of Gray activating a certain elegance from Lantner as a base for the ornate playing of the guitarist. Into another realm, "Silver Sun" is dense, using much less space, as the dominant lines of Morris combine spinning physicality with a kaleidoscopic color wheel and the glossy, wise, active pianistics of Lantner. Staying in the mezzo forte range throughout, there's a spatial start to a more direct and constructed sound during "Purple Distant" as the group plays deeper from within via chiming piano and rumbling drums. As there is no bassist, the trio breathes organically without time constraints, but there the forceful urgency in the louder timbres of "Bell Orange Curves," as Lantner's animated piano and the strident style of Morris is more pronounced, as Gray fills up all the rhythmic cracks in craggy rock or R&B beats. While there's a clear and present acknowledgment to the old Cecil Taylor Unit's of the '70s, Morris and the trio avoid any clich├ęs while adopting their extended expressionist ideals and the then-new attitude toward making music without boundaries or timing issues that still works. If the expectations of Morris are somewhat idealistic, they are certainly realized in this successful outing where he is making musical high art through spontaneous sound painting.

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