"MVP LSD comes highly, highly recommended on grounds of pure beauty." –Phil Freeman


THE WIRE / May 2009
"Iridescent showers of carefully placed notes and raw bowed textures .. splintered dialogue across canyon-wide intervals .. growling utterances .. elegant concords." –Bill Meyer


SIGNAL TO NOISE #53 [out now!]
(below is an excerpt from page-length feature review of Joe Morris' recent releases: MVP LSD, High Definition and Elm City Duets)
"Joe Morris has always been something of a ronin, never aligned for very long with any one scene or school of playing, or any one city or band–or, since he took up the bass and banjo, any one instrument. This non-dogmatic approach has stood him in good stead, giving a bracing sense of freedom and determined individuality to his playing. You approach every new recording with a sense of anticipation, expecting to be surprised in some way. ... Lowell Davidson's graphic scores offer yet another way of ordering improvisation. Written on 3x5 note cards, the compositions, left untitled by Davidson, are little treasure maps marking the spots where the richest balances of chance and design, intention and coincidence lie buried. To a greater or lesser degree, the scores dictate interactions between players, the development of the piece, the shape of line and tempo. Morris (on guitar), bassist John Voigt, and trombonist Tom Plsek––who all spent many years performing with Davidson––defer to the scores on MVP LSD, and the result is neither freely improvised nor through-composed, but some ideal marriage of the two approaches. "Particles" is a glittering sound field, like a stochastic composition by Xenaxis, in which different patterns grow and die away. The score of "Separate Blue X's" prompts gestures of different sizes and proportions, occurring in diverse registers and tempos. "Gold Drop #2" elicits round, plopping notes from Plsek and Voigt, plus liquid ripples from Morris. The trio places their trust in these signposts left by Davidson's quirky imagination as it made its mad, intuitive journey through life; and their trust is entirely merited. This is a lovely and long overdue tribute to one of free jazz's unheralded geniuses."  –Ed Hazell


"As with most engaging music, so much informs every moment of MVP LSD that any overarching description is futile. Each performer has a large timbral pallet, but more conventional modes of expression are also plentiful. Sample Morris’ beautifully pan-tonal musings on “Separate Blue X” or Plsek’s pointilistic punctuations on “Index Card no. 1.” There is dialogue a-plenty, but the larger picture is of a trio, the three musicians often seeming to breathe as one as they explore these rich and multivalent compositional landscapes. ..
It is a shame that Davidson didn’t get the recognition he deserved during his life. .. Davidson could not have better advocates than Morris, Voigt and Plsek." –Marc Medwin

"Guitarist/bassist-composer Joe Morris talks about one thing repeatedly: flow. He spoke about this facet of his music recently in a discussion with this writer about the late improvising composer Lowell Davidson. Davidson was a multi-instrumentalist who acted as a beacon to a number of younger Boston-based musicians in the '70s and '80s, including Morris. His music moved very slowly, hinging on sonic particles and lingering atmospherically, even as rhythms shifted. Those atmospheres could develop into extraordinarily piercing conditions felt objectively. Morris takes a page from that book and builds on it in four extremely varied recent recordings."  –Clifford Allen

"Pianist and Harvard biochemist Lowell Skinner Davidson recorded one striking trio-based album for the “ESP” record label back in 1965. And per guitarist Joe Morris’ liner notes, “Lowell used his background as a biochemist (at Harvard) to describe his approach to music.” For this outing, the musicians apply some of Davidson’s scores made during the ‘80s that were notated on index cards, which the pianist scribed in an untraditional manner. .. they underscore the basis for this curiously interesting endeavor by delving into Davidson’s distinct compositional style, teeming with geometric movements and other components. And they navigate that sometimes, opaque division between melody and sound-sculpting exercises." –Glenn Astarita

AUM Fidelity home