Guitarist Joe Morris embellishes his already impressive recorded legacy with the newly released Racket Club on the About Time label. Recorded in 1993, this dynamic set features Morris pays a little homage to his blues and rock roots the twin drumming of Jerome Deupree and Curt Newton, along with Nate McBride’s thumping, slapping and funky electric bass work. Morris is clearly the traffic cop here while enjoying bountiful solo opportunities or laying down buzz saw like rhythms on electric guitar, with all the impact of a rocket blast on the opening piece titled “Rumble Strip.”
Here the band are a bit reminiscent of Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time unit, as the supercharged front line of alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs and baritone saxophonist Steve Norton state the melody in unison lines, keeping pace with the large sounding and ebullient dual drum attack. “Revolve” features booming, resonant drumming as McBride’s sturdy bottom anchors the fervent pulse. On this piece, Morris maintains the appealing yet somewhat ominous melody line – as if something catastrophic were to happen... Baritone saxophonist Steve Norton’s fiery phrasing and hefty sound compliments the dark tonalities along with alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs’ probing yet free jazz tendencies. “Cellular” features slick picking bass lines by McBride as this train ..keeps a rolling. Morris’ sweeping funk chord progressions coupled with lightning quick yet enjoyably “nasty” lead work rides atop the robust rhythms on “Vapor,” as the band perform lively R&B style choruses, accentuated by the hard edged soloing of Hobbs and Norton. Morris is on fire once again on “Instinct” as he integrates impossibly swift strumming with dexterous lead soloing. The story thus far: impact, resolve and power!
Joe Morris should win over some new fans with the release of Racket Club, which rates extremely high on the entertainment scale. Racket Club verifies Morris’ diverse talents and multidimensional persona. This man knows no boundaries. The jazz world has a lot to look forward to from someone who possesses such remarkable talent. Don’t pass this one up folks........* * * * ½