Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

589

Joe Morris Bass Quartet: High Definition

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
One of today's most iconoclastic jazz guitarists, Joe Morris is a staunch tonal purist whose crisp, spidery cadences and blistering angular runs are legendary in the jazz underground. Seeking new avenues for expression, Morris added upright bass to his instrumental arsenal in 2000. Since then, he has split his time between leading his own ensembles as a guitarist and playing bass as a sideman with fellow artists Rob Brown, Whit Dickey, Steve Lantner, Daniel Levin, and Matthew Shipp.

High Definition is a paradigm shift for Morris; this is his first session leading an ensemble as a bassist. Joined by longstanding drummer Luther Gray, Morris enjoys the steadfast support of a like-minded veteran. With the animated front-line of cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum and saxophonist Allan Chase, they offer a varied program of piano-less quartet traditions; vibrant West Coast styled arrangements and folksy Ornette-ish lyricism alternate with probing, experimental detours that border on Ayler-esque cacophony.

Morris' expansive writing straddles the tenuous line between inside and outside aesthetics with graceful fluidity, allowing ample solo space for each member of the quartet. With their infectiously knotty themes, harmonic sophistication, and lilting syncopation, "Skeleton," "Land Mass," and "All-In-One" feature ebullient melodies, rich chord changes, and spry rhythmic patterns. Tunes like "Morning Group," "Topics," and "Super Spot" head further out, embracing fluctuating tempos and unfettered polyphony.

An invigorating front-line voice, Bynum's blustery excursions evoke every aspect of the jazz tradition, from crisp hard-bop precision to elliptical cadences that bristle with pungent slurs, whinnies, and growls. An incisive conceptualist, his coruscating smears on "Land Mass" and "The Air Has Color" are both caustic and strangely tuneful. His rousing thematic variations on "Topics" reveal masterful technical virtuosity while his muted musings on the dulcet tone poem "Bearing" reflect a composer's sense of restraint.

A deft and under-sung multi-instrumentalist, Chase's kaleidoscopic contributions make him a perfect foil for Bynum's earthy elicitations. His baritone resounds with pneumatic muscularity on "Skeleton" and "All-In-One," while his alto veers from circuitous fervor on "Topics" to acerbic volatility on "Morning Group." He demonstrates a lyrical streak on "Bearing" and "The Air Has Color," unfurling sinuous soprano fragments.

Morris' elastic melodic contours and Gray's impeccable timing weave a mosaic of effervescent momentum as their finely honed conversational interplay provides direction to even the most nebulous passages. Sounding confident and inspired, Morris solos on almost every tune, unveiling a robust tone and supple phrasing. Gray demonstrates a wide dynamic range, veering from the roiling assault of "Super Spot" to lithe percussive shading on "Bearing."

High Definition opens a promising new chapter for Morris as a bandleader. No longer limited in his choice of instrumentation as an ensemble leader, this radiant session reveals new vistas for exploration from one of the most creative minds of his generation.


Track Listing: Skeleton; Morning Group; Land Mass; Topics; Bearing; All-in-One; Super Spot; The Air Has Color.

Personnel: Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet, trumpet, flugelhorn; Allan Chase: alto, baritone and soprano saxophone; Joe Morris: double-bass; Luther Gray: drums.

Title: High Definition | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Hatology


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Signaling" CD/LP/Track Review Signaling
by Troy Dostert
Published: May 11, 2017
Read "Overseas V" CD/LP/Track Review Overseas V
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 30, 2017
Read "The Behemoth" CD/LP/Track Review The Behemoth
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 9, 2017
Read "Of Light and Shadows" CD/LP/Track Review Of Light and Shadows
by Phillip Woolever
Published: December 9, 2017
Read "Anti-Hero" CD/LP/Track Review Anti-Hero
by Mike Jacobs
Published: September 1, 2017
Read "As The Wind" CD/LP/Track Review As The Wind
by John Eyles
Published: January 12, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!