Flip & Spike

Joe Morris

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Flip & Spike Review

by Thom Jurek

On his third trio outing, Joe Morris uses his rhythm section of Sebastian Steinberg and Jerry Deupree on bass and drums, respectively, acoustically. Flip & Spike is a series of works that vary in length and texture that are designed to expand the use of the guitar in the jazz setting. This stands in stark contrast to the loose funk and groove of Sweatshop, its predecessor. Here Morris concerns himself with developing an expanded language for the jazz guitar through the use of intervallic techniques and experimentation with the line itself. Morris' line is long, moving across measures and rhythmic constructs in a loping unbroken way, much in the same manner as a horn player who is improvising over a set of changes or the intervals on those changes. For the title track, he combines a limited use of chromatics inside the intervallic architecture of both mode and phrase to blow his lines across as extensions of the melodic impulse. On the four-part "Mnemonic Device," Morris collapses that same line with intricacy, offering only its accent points as possible variations. On the closing "Reflexes," he moves through a bluesy, swinging set of intervals that accent rhythm and color, with knotty arpeggios combing the landscape looking for the hooky riffs provided by Steinberg. Flip & Spike is the first of Morris' recordings that articulate his signature investigations of the guitar as an instrument of sonic density and dexterity, not just as a solo vehicle. As such, and as a work of striking emotional commitment, it is quite remarkable.

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