All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

4

Joe Morris / William Parker / Gerald Cleaver: Altitude

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Guitarist Joe Morris is on a roll. Hardly a month goes by without a new release featuring the Boston-based musician. Of course, he doubled his chances by adding acoustic bass to his armory alongside his six-stringed axe. It's the latter he wields on this trio date featuring bassist William Parker and drummer Gerald Cleaver, captured at New York City's Stone in June, 2011. Strangely, given their long acquaintance, this is the first time this particular combination has recorded, though each knows the others well from other collaborations. Cleaver and Parker form two-thirds of improvising collective Farmers By Nature, while Parker featured alongside Morris in the Eloping With The Sun (Aum Fidelity, 2003) triumvirate, and the guitarist and drummer both number among Jean Carla Rodea's Azares. What that familiarity ensures is that there is none of the "getting to know you" tentativeness that afflicts some first-time dates. All three leap straight in, spinning yarns.

Inspired by the lengthy expositions of Coltrane and Cecil Taylor (although sounding nothing like either) the threesome maintains an urgent pace throughout the first extended piece (50-plus minutes, demarcated into the first two tracks, comprising the opening set in full). In a relatively straightforward execution, the adventure stems from the ceaseless search, as the trio obsessively wrings all the possibilities inherent from a single mood via a steadily blossoming stream of consciousness.

As Morris says in the liners: "we kept it simple and let it unfold naturally, listening for the discovery of melody, always comfortable on that tremendous platform of rhythm." And that's how it sounds. While no one is likely to go away humming a refrain from this disc, a certain lower case lyricism permeates the atmosphere, especially the guitarist's genial single line rivulets and Parker's tonally sympathetic counterpoint. Their unity of purpose is such that even when the music opens out for a drum solo towards the end of "Exosphere," the dynamic doesn't change and the energy level barely dips.

For the second set, excerpted here in the final two cuts, Parker switches from bass to sintir—a Moroccan three-stringed lute. That decision engenders a different feel, with Parker's dusty grooves evoking Africa's vast open plains and timeless emotions. Cleaver avoids the obvious foot-tapping response, preferring instead a clattering pulse resembling fragments of several diverse tempos simultaneously. Subtle accents and changes of emphasis color the flow to maintain interest with Morris at his most assertive on "Mesosphere" pressing his points with a determined vigor.

To sum up: three friends with nothing to prove bring home the bacon on a hot night in NYC.

Track Listing: Exosphere; Thermosphere; Troposphere; Mesoosphere.

Personnel: Joe Morris: guitar; William Parker: bass, sintir; Gerald Cleaver: drums.

Title: Altitude | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: AUM Fidelity

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
In Pictures
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Shock Axis

Shock Axis

Relative Pitch Records
2016

buy
Balance

Balance

Clean Feed Records
2014

buy
Plymouth

Plymouth

RareNoiseRecords
2014

buy
 

Part And Parcel

Kedar Entertainment Group
2013

buy

Related Articles

Read Jazz Tango CD/LP/Track Review
Jazz Tango
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 18, 2018
Read The Berlin Concert CD/LP/Track Review
The Berlin Concert
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 18, 2018
Read IMA IMA CD/LP/Track Review
IMA IMA
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 18, 2018
Read Breathe CD/LP/Track Review
Breathe
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 18, 2018
Read Good Music CD/LP/Track Review
Good Music
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 18, 2018
Read Stillness & Sirens CD/LP/Track Review
Stillness & Sirens
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 17, 2018
Read "Minor Step" CD/LP/Track Review Minor Step
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 19, 2017
Read "Spiritual Impressions" CD/LP/Track Review Spiritual Impressions
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 16, 2018
Read "I Believe In You" CD/LP/Track Review I Believe In You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "Copenhagen Live 1964" CD/LP/Track Review Copenhagen Live 1964
by John Sharpe
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Cycle" CD/LP/Track Review Cycle
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 17, 2018
Read "Tangents" CD/LP/Track Review Tangents
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 28, 2017