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Underthru is the debut recording for the 'Joe Morris Quartet' on the new 'OmniTone' jazz label. Here, Morris and his long time associates, violinist Mat Maneri, drummer Gerald Cleaver, and bassist Chris Lightcap offer listeners a slightly different perspective as we feel that this recording may open up a few more doors for Morris and his band. Perhaps not as intense or impacting than some of Morris' work on the AUM Fidelity, Accurate, or Homestead record labels, yet the band's overall approach on Underthru most assuredly does not suffer from any lack of enthusiasm or interest. Here, Morris and his estimable bandmates pursue some common threads and ideas as they perform a little magic with blues riffs, recurring themes and toe-tapping meter which is quite evident on the first piece and title track, 'Underthru'. The composition titled, 'Remarks' is based upon a blues motif complete with shifting tempos, a few appealing diversions and Maneri's brief jagged lines as this piece contains plenty of space providing ample room for the soloists to explore and create. There's a lot going on under hood on 'Routine 3' as the band pursue boppish/free jazz lines with some intriguing work from Maneri along with Morris' fluttering single note lines as though the guitarist was commenting on the state of affairs..... and for the uninitiated, Morris and Maneri are among the finest improvisers on the planet.
Morris works the inside with blazing single note lines on '"Two Busses And A Long Walk"' as this piece commences with a somewhat subdued or loose vibe yet evolves climactically as Maneri follows suit with gritty, fierce improv via wistful statements. On the final track, 'Manipulatives' the Quartet rekindle some of the fire and heated exchanges witnessed on previous outings.
In some respects, Underthru is a bit lighter or perhaps less penetrating than previous 'Quartet' outings yet offers another glimpse of a notoriously 'cutting edge' band who seem capable of pursuing just about any avenue imaginable. There's a little for everyone here while Joe Morris and co. not only journey to the outer limits of modern jazz but also uncover new and fertile territory along the way. Recommended........* * * *
Personnel: Joe Morris; Guitar: Mat Maneri; Violin, Baritone Violin: Chris Lightcap; Bass: Gerald Cleaver;