Joe Morris: Singularity, Part 2-2
JM: Yeah, exactly. I remember sitting there thinking, "Wait, if I'm going to be as good as him, why don't I just be me, and just be really good." I don't think he wants me to play like him. He probably is so sick and tired of having a million lemmings follow him around saying "How do you do this? How do you do that?" It's a scream!
That was an amazing thing, to finally just say, "I just do what I do, and figure out a way to make it work." That's the only way I got into another area of music. Being a guitar player, interested in Jimmy Lyons. You know... name one other!
AAJ: Jimmy Lyons is the man.
JM: He was a nice guy, too. I was talking to William Parker about him the other day. William knew him really well, I knew him a little bit. Yeah, he was a really nice guy. He was a blast to hang out with, and really sincere. A really nice person, and an awesome musician. That guy's awesome.
I was telling William that the first time I saw him Cecil, I thought he was a millionaire, I thought he was like a playboy who lived in a penthouse apartment on Park Avenue. He was really handsome, and he had style. The way he carried himself... If your music is this good, you'd be rich and you'd travel in all these sophisticated circles. I found out later that he worked at the post office for a long time. When I was a piano mover, he told me he once had a job taking bricks off of one pallet and putting them on another.
He was not a playboy living in a penthouse apartment. But he had real dignity as a person. I think he thought that what he was doing was definitely worthy of that type of result. He just couldn't get to it. It wasn't available to him. I really love his phrasing. I got to open up for him once playing solo acoustic guitar. It was a big thing for me, and I begged the guy who ran the place to do it.
They told me I had 15 minutes, you know, "15 minutes and you're out." So I played for 15 minutes and one second, and I stopped. And when I finished, Jimmy was standing in the wings. When I walked over, he hugged me. He was my biggest hero in the world when he did that. He was completely cool. Before I went on he said it was really good that I was going to play because I would inspire him and he would play better.
AAJ: He must have meant it.
JM: Yeah, I don't think he would say, "Get outta here." He just wouldn't have said anything. Everybody I've ever met in that world of music has been nice. Like William Parker... he's the kind of person everybody should be. He's got a great sense of humor. He's not going to accept nonsense, but his way of rejecting it is so quiet and humorous that it's kind of appealing. He makes everybody around him a better person. I played a duet with him last week in front of 10 or 20 people at the Knitting Factory, and I think it was the best gig I ever did in my whole life. We just blew the roof off the place. It was tremendous.
AAJ: He's got amazing technique for not having classical training.
JM: Yeah, he has his own way of playing the bass. It's really deep, too. I like the way he swings. When you play with him in a band, and he swings, it's really unique. He really has his own way of doing it. That's probably the hardest thing to do, anyway, figuring out another way to swing. Making sounds, and interactions, and all that stuff, that's easy compared to figuring out another way to get a rhythm section to work. That's the hardest thing.
AAJ: I really appreciated the rhythmic pulse of Antennae. That's what made me realize that this is very organized music. It's structured, and it has a beat.
JM: But we don't always play it.
AAJ: It's understated, shadowy, and you occasionally come back to it.
JM: Yeah, we always know where it is. It's like the fourth member of a trio and the fifth member of a quartet.
For more information visit Joe Morris and Joe Morris @ AUM Fidelity on the web. A complete listing of Riti Records releases is available here. You may also wish to read Allen Huotari's July '99 AAJ interview.
Selected discography [updated in 2005]
Steve Lantner, Blue Yonder (Skycap, 2005)
Natural History, Fur (Skycap, 2005)
Daniel Levin Quartet, Don't Go It Alone (Riti, 2004)
Stone House, Likewise (Riti, 2003)
Parker/Morris/Drake, Eloping With The Sun (Riti, 2003)
Steve Lantner, Saying So (Riti, 2002)
Joe Morris, Age Of Everything (Riti, 2002)
Joe Morris, Singularity (AUM Fidelity, 2001)
Maneri/Morris/Maneri, Out Right Now (HatOLOGY, 2001)
Lantner/Maneri/Morris, Voices Lowered (Leo, 2001)
Joe Morris & Mat Maneri, Soul Search (AUM Fidelity, 2000)
Joe Morris Quartet, At the Old Office (Knitting Factory, 2000)
DKV Trio with Joe Morris, Deep Telling (Okkadisk, 1999)
Joe Morris Quartet, Underthru (Omnitone, 1999)
Joe Morris, Many Rings (Knitting Factory, 1999)
Joe Morris Quartet, A Cloud Of Black Birds (AUM Fidelity, 1998)
Joe Morris, Racket Club (About Time, 1998)
Morris/Vandermark/Poppel, Like Rays (Knitting Factory, 1998)
Joe Morris Trio, Antennae (AUM Fidelity, 1997)
Joe Morris/William Parker, Invisible Weave (No More Records, 1997)
Matthew Shipp Duo with Joe Morris, Thesis (HatArt, 1997)
Joe Morris Quartet, You Be Me (Soul Note, 1997)
Joe Morris Ensemble:Elsewhere (Homestead, 1996)
Joe Morris, No Vertigo (Leo, 1996)
Maneri/Morris/Maneri, Three Men Walking (ECM, 1996)
Joe Morris/Rob Brown Quartet,Illuminate (Leo, 1995)
Joe Morris Trio, Symbolic Gesture (Soul Note, 1994)
Brown/Dickey/Morris: Youniverse (Riti, 1992)
Joe Morris Trio, Flip & Spike (Riti, 1991)
Joe Morris, Sweatshop (Riti, 1990)
Joe Morris Trio, Human Rites (Riti, 1986)
Joe Morris Trio, Wraparound (Riti, 1983)
Color photo credit