Half Notes: Joe Morris – Camera (2010)

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by S. Victor Aaron

Last year’s Colorfield was Joe Morris’ convincing debut for ESP-Disk. This year’s follow-up follows the same strategy of going without a bass (an instrument that he, ironically, is very proficient at), but instead of piano this time, there’s a cello (by Junko Fujiwara Simons) and violin (by Katt Hernandez). Joined again by Luther Gray on drums, Morris again folds his familiar skittering, single note lines into an uncommon setting. In the absence of tonality, Morris understands that timbres and textures have to carry the songs, and his clash of plucked strings with bowed ones give the music the strange but purposeful music that’s his stock in trade. Though it’s hard to draw a bead on individual tracks, there are notable moments, like the three-way conversation between Morris, Hernandez and Fujiwara while Gray idles during much of “Scene Scene.” But most of the time, Gray’s ever-shifting rhythms provide the launching points for these interactions, and while all these strings may sometimes to be appear to be flying in all directions, they never crash to the ground. Camera is a sharp snapshot of Joe Morris in 2010.

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