Joe Morris | Experimental Sound Studio | Experimental | Chicago Reader
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Joe Morris

Joe Morris

Peter Hum

When: Mon., March 21, 7:30 p.m. 2016
Price: $10, $5 students and members
In the liner notes for his terrific 2014 album Balance (Clean Feed) Boston guitarist Joe Morris writes, “One approach, one aesthetic, one way of organizing my music isn’t enough for me,” a statement borne out in his work. (This is a guy, after all, who essentially put aside the guitar for a number of years to focus on upright bass.) Cut with a quartet featuring violist Joe Maneri, bassist Chris Lightcap, and drummer Gerald Cleaver—a band Morris initially dissolved in 2000 because he didn’t want to repeat himself—Balance is fully improvised, with dazzling quicksilver interactions between each player. But Morris really shakes things up on two other recent releases. Mess Hall (Hatology) is a bruising trio session with Steve Lantner on electronic keyboard and Jerome Deupree, one of Morris’s oldest collaborators, on drums. The group create a furious, loud, seething mass of dark sounds, the leader sometimes using a pick to generate brittle, lacerating tones that feel liquid but have an acidic bite; at other times he channels the intensity of Sonny Sharrock. The roiling 70s work of Miles Davis and Tony Williams provides a seed for Mess Hall, but Morris has constructed an altogether new monster, one that has no time for politeness. On last year’s remarkable Solos Bimhuis (Relative Pitch) he manipulates his acoustic guitar to sound like a variety of traditional African instruments—whether a kalimba or a riti, the African single-string instrument after which he named his label—by masterfully generating a rasping buzz through pick manipulation. His solos sometimes reflect his skill at long, spindly single-note flurries, but the most exciting passages convey a fingerstyle-like multilinearity as tangles of notes pile up in knotted bunches.
— Peter Margasak



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