Friday, December 10, 2010

Guitarist Joe Morris and the New CD "Camera"

Joe Morris is a horizontal cat. By that I do not mean that he spends his time lying on the couch. It's his improvisation style on guitar. It has extraordinary linear motion. Like a Jackson Pollock canvas he fills out his improvisations in an all-over sort of way. Not from top to bottom so much as from point A to point B. His lines are inventive, harmonically multivalent, continuous and very expressive. It's safe to say that nobody sounds like him. And it's not just that he is note-ful. He constructs melodic cells that not-so-much repeat as they form sets of variations on variations, continually spiraling upwards, to return at each pass in a differing way. And yet it is not cyclical lines he constructs, really. They are horizontal, reaching toward the future.

Well that's my take. Joe Morris is a guitar original. There's no better place to experience his playing than on his latest CD, Camera (ESP 4063). That's a nicely extended live set recorded this year at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Joining him is the equally all-over Luther Gray on drums, plus a kind of string section of Katt Hernandez on violin and Junko Fujiwara Simons on cello.

You get plenty of time to hear the group in action, and the action is quite good. There is a uniqueness to the sound. And for me it's a kind of horizontal experience, a journey in time, an unfolding of avant improvisatory melodic richness.

Joe Morris has created his own musically free zone. Go there on Camera and get transfixed. Don't miss him, especially this new one.

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