All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

234

Joe Morris Organ Trio at Tonic

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Joe Morris Organ Trio
Tonic
107 Norfolk Street,
Lower East Side, New York City, USA
August 10, 2006

In the midst of a late summer downpour, guitarist Joe Morris premiered his newest ensemble on the stage of Tonic, the Lower East Side's venerable avant-garde jazz mecca. Featuring fellow Boston-based members, keyboardist Steve Lantner on organ and drummer Kwaku Kwaakye Obeng, the trio explored the untapped potential of one of jazz's most reliable, yet unyielding instrumental line-ups, the classic organ combo.

This new ensemble project conceptually concludes what Morris jokingly refers to as his "big loud electric trilogy," continuing the thematic concepts begun on Morris' previous releases, Sweatshop (Riti, 1990) and Racket Club (About Time, 1993). With more emphasis on pentatonic scales and harmolodic variations in these settings, Morris reveals a side of his playing not heard in his more intimate, stripped-down ensembles. Tentatively titled Mess Hall, the trio focuses on sound, drone, root and texture, all in a unique rhythmic setting.

Playing a fully improvised set with only a few suggestions made beforehand and some melodic ideas agreed on in the moment, the entire improvisation was played as one continuous piece with recurring dynamic shifts, alluding to skeletal song forms.

The set started out in full free jazz mode, with drummer Kwaku Kwaakye Obeng flailing away at his kit, whipping up a torrent of sound. Lantner's hands rocked back and forth plumbing the lower register and chordal clusters while Morris spewed out his usual stream of angular, circuitous notes. His tone is pure, round and bright, highlighting his amazing dexterity. What Morris does with such virtuosity however, is well beyond the average guitar slinger. Morris employs adrenalized fluency in the service of advanced harmony, sculpting abstruse, spiraling melodies into exotic mantras far removed from empty technical virtuosity.

While Morris generally avoids voluminous histrionics and bluesy leads, here he sporadically ratcheted up the intensity level with a burst of Sonny Sharrock/Sonic Youth- inspired strumming or an occasional screaming lead.

Vacillating between righteous funky backbeats, roiling tribal polyryhthms and supple swing rhythms, Kwaakye Obeng drove the ensemble as often as he followed his band mates' lead. Lantner alternated between support role and soloist, often engaging in brief duets with Morris during the set's rare introspective moments. Morris and Kwaakye Obeng sparred during their sporadic passages unaccompanied by Lantner, Morris' singular tone and phrasing spotlighted in all its abstract glory.

Morris' newest ensemble shows intriguing possibilities. Pummeling grooves, kaleidoscopic melodic fragments, dense texture and nuanced group interplay all inhabit this electrified miasma, making it one of ihs most unusual recent projects.

Personnel: Joe Morris: electric guitar; Steve Lantner: organ; Kwaku Kwaakye Obeng: drums.

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 Tallinn Music Week 2018 Live Reviews
Tallinn Music Week 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: April 19, 2018
Read James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum Live Reviews
James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum
by Phillip Woolever
Published: April 17, 2018
Read Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano Live Reviews
Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 16, 2018
Read Marbin at The Firmament Live Reviews
Marbin at The Firmament
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 15, 2018
Read Big Ears Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Big Ears Festival 2018
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 13, 2018
Read Meg Morley Trio at 606 Club Live Reviews
Meg Morley Trio at 606 Club
by Gareth Thomas
Published: April 13, 2018
Read "Bonerama at the Iridium" Live Reviews Bonerama at the Iridium
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: August 5, 2017
Read "WDR 3 Jazzfest 2018" Live Reviews WDR 3 Jazzfest 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 16, 2018
Read "Karl Denson's Tiny Universe at Levitt Pavilion" Live Reviews Karl Denson's Tiny Universe at Levitt Pavilion
by Geoff Anderson
Published: September 1, 2017
Read "Bray Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Bray Jazz Festival 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 9, 2017