What sets Joe Morris and Mat Maneri apart from many other free jazz musicians is not only their superlative technical abilities, but also their clean, effects-free tones: Unlike many other free improvisers who play electric instruments, Morris and Maneri never make distortion or feedback the focus of their music. In fact, the sound (though not the content) of Morris' playing is more similar to that of bop guitarist Wes Montgomery than to the unhinged explorations of Sonny Sharrock or Nels Cline. So this release, in which Morris and Maneri play busily but quietly in a drum-free setting, may frustrate listeners who enjoy free jazz for its uninhibited bursts of noise. Still, Soul Search is an enthralling record: The two musicians add plenty of thoughtful, unexpected touches, like the tense, swarming-bee crescendi in "Eyes or Gaze" and the quick walking basslines Maneri plays in the low range of his six-string violin. Elsewhere, the interplay remains sensitive, idiosyncratic, and compelling. By this point, Maneri and Morris had developed utterly distinctive instrumental voices: Their senses of phrasing and harmony were, and are, uniquely theirs. Don't be thrown off by the lack of overt craziness; Soul Search is as adventurous and cerebral as they come.
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AllMusic Review by Charlie Wilmoth