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Jazz Articles

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Morris: Shock Axis

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I am applying for a NEA grant to test my theory that you can judge an album by it's cover. For instance, The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St (RSR, 1972) and The Clash's London Calling (CBS, 1979) are two albums where you just knew what to expect by gazing at the covers. In the jazz world, Sonny Clark's Cool Struttin' (Blue Note, 1958) and John Zorn's Spy Vs. Spy: The Music Of Ornette Coleman give away the contents of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe McPhee / Jamie Saft / Joe Morris / Charles Downs: Ticonderoga

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As the liners explain, this date was inspired by bassist Joe Morris and pianist Jamie Saft's shared love for the seminal John Coltrane Live At The Village Vanguard Again (Impulse, 1966) album. In the subsequent discussion with the other participants, it transpired that reedman Joe McPhee actually witnessed that gig from the center of the front row. The outcome is a sequence of collective inventions very much in the same barnstorming spirit.But the result is not an explicit ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe McPhee / Jamie Saft / Joe Morris / Charles Downs: Ticonderoga

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The premise for this get together commenced with discussions by pianist Jamie Saft and bassist, guitarist Joe Morris who plotted to meld their influences from John Coltrane's Live at the Village Vanguard Again (Impulse, 1966) album, along with celebrated artists, trumpeter, reedman Joe McPhee and drummer Charles Downs. Moreover, the band moniker Ticonderoga is a Mohawk Indian word that translates into “junction of two waterways," signifying the transition from the artists' collective impressions and groupthink of the Coltrane set with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe McPhee / Jamie Saft / Joe Morris / Charles Downs: Ticonderoga

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Ticonderoga was inspired by a conversation between Joe Morris and Jamie Saft regarding their mutual admiration for John Coltrane's Live at the Village Vanguard Again (Impulse!, 1966). Paying homage to the historic date, the pair invited free jazz veterans Joe McPhee and Charles Downs to convene for an informal recording session at Saft's studio in the Catskill Mountains, located just down the river from Ticonderoga, a Mohawk word meaning “the junction of two waterways."Lending credence to the album's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Morris Quartet: Balance

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After several albums and great synergy, guitarist Joe Morris disbanded the quartet in 2000 with many of his associates stating it was a “terrible idea." For this reunion, the musicians' artistic evolution surges on via a conglomeration of diminutive and soaring theme-building episodes, asymmetrical footprints, and staggered detours, instilling a continual sense of anticipation. The gala is off to a rousing start on “Thought," fostered by Mat Maneri's buzzing viola passages, and the unit's synchronous improvisational attack, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Morris & Jamie Saft: Plymouth

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Guitarist Joe Morris and keyboardist Jamie Saft follow-up the 2013 Rare Noise Records release Slobberpup in a similar vein by locking into another improvisational fest. Once all the audio processing equipment is ready to roll, it's time for instantaneous compositional forays, as they let the chips fall where they may. Morris' former student, guitarist and rising star Mary Halvorson, along with the prominent rhythm section of bassist Chris Lightcap and drummer Gerald Cleaver steer an asymmetrical rhythmic course. However, the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Plymouth: Plymouth

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Jamie Saft, Joe Morris, Chris Lightcap, Gerald Cleaver, and Mary Halvorson. The simple mention of these five names is probably enough to frighten some people away from this album and make others rush toward it with open ears. Each one of the aforementioned musicians has a reputation for being a musical provocateur, pushing buttons, pushing the limits and challenging minds and ears with intelligent abandon. The music they make together under the banner of Plymouth could be dubbed free jazz, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Morris: Graffiti In Two Parts

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One of the main talking points regarding Graffiti In Two Parts, and perhaps the reason this session from 1985 has finally seen the light of day, must be the participation of the erstwhile pianist Lowell Davidson. After studying biochemistry at Harvard University, he moved to New York and played with Ornette Coleman who urged the ESP Disk label to record him. If the pianist is known at all, it is for the obscure but acclaimed Lowell Davidson Trio (ESP Disk, ...


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