AUM004. - JOE MORRIS Trio.. Antennae ..... Album Reviews


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1. Synapse 8:17
2. Antennae 13:21
3. Silent Treatment 7:35
4. Stare Into A Lightbulb For Three Years 13:30
5. Human Pyramid 9:22
6. Elevator 15:09
7. Virtual Whatever 6:45

All compositions by Joe Morris,
Riti Publishing, ASCAP 1997 p+c 1997 AUM Fidelity

Joe Morris - guitar
Nate McBride - bass
Jerome Deupree - drums
Produced by Joe Morris and Steven Joerg
Recorded and mixed by Jim Seigel at The Outpost Studio, Stoughton, MA on July 5 & 6, 1997 Mastered by Henk Kooistra at Nine West Studios, Marlborough, MA
Cover design by Anne Marcotty

Joe Morris plays the guitar unlike anyone else, ever, and has been doing so for the last two decades. It's actually easier to compare him to horn players like Jimmy Lyons and Eric Dolphy - next to whom he stands tall - if you like. Yeah. This is his fifth Trio record. The guitar-bass-drums trio format remains a favorite for Joe Morris, and the one that he has most amply documented in a highly diverse recorded oevre that stretches back to his first (self-released) album (also such a trio) in 1983. Although, it had been 3 years since his prior Trio record when 'Antennae' was released, and this remains the most recent document of his astounding work in this realm. Most of my favorite bands for years were trios (I'll mention the Minutemen...). Three sides - all very, very live. Ease of entry into a totally unique sonic space. With such a group - Joe Morris as the principal lead - his singularly profound gifts as a player are full to the fore. The band - in top form and stunning throughout. And the songs - Joe Morris writes gorgeous tunes with a beckoning sense of mystery. This album, released in November 1997, completed that year's Jazz Trilogy Nonpareil (see AUMOO1 & AUM002/3) - as I referred to it then, so do I now, and without hesitation. -SJ

From the liner notes by Joe Morris:
This set of pieces was originally named The Green Book. Inspired by a collection of visual graphic aids by that name created by the late composer/improviser/pianist Lowell Davidson... Lowell's Green Book was intended to be used as a guide for improvisation. It consisted of a set of color Xerox images made by the copier running on it's own without source material. The results were dense blotches of random pattern and color. Lowell considered the Green Book to be one of his most advanced devices to be used to steer himself and his players. Others included index cards with different sizes of notes (these were similar to the work of other composers from the 50s and 60s) and his invented staves which were intended to isolate certain musical zones and sounds. He also notated on materials other than paper and used methods of notating such as making holes in aluminum foil and placing it in front of a light bulb. Lowell said that by looking at the foil you could imprint the pattern of light on your synapses and then transfer the pattern to your instrument. In one of Lowell's most extreme experiments, he stared into a high wattage chrome coated light bulb every day for what he claimed was three years-I didn't know him at that time.

I once told Lowell that I saw a whole image in the Green Book as a guide, but he pointed to a tiny fragment of color and shape and said that if we worked for a few more years we might be able to play that. Lowell considered the images in the Green Book as symbolic of the enormous task of creating music which inspired a sense of interacting as a level of consciousness. He felt that music should expand the human brain. He used to tell me all the time, "it's about evolution."

If all of this seems strange or "cosmic" or even psychedelic it's because it probably is. But to me Lowell was only following the ancient tradition of attempting to create music that was an element of nature and nothing less than that.

Involvement in that tradition was the reason I decided to play this music in the first place. It's also why I got involved with Lowell Davidson and musicians like him. Back when I started, Hendrix was my first inspiration on that level, but after he died, guitar music of that ilk just seemed to jump head first into show business. For me, musicians connected to the Jazz/ Improvisation tradition seemed to be seeking a way to use music to allow a deeper involvement and sense of purpose. My method of presenting this notion is to try to create melodic shapes, rhythmic flows and dynamic situations which convey messages that can really only be sensed. The title "Antennae" comes from the idea of being a receptor. Sensing inspiration from what is here now. Feeling the value of time as it is in the present sense, with no end in sight. Passing on these ideas is my ultimate goal. -Joe Morris, July 1997


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