Sunday, August 5, 2007

Joe Morris - Rebus (Clean Feed, 2007) **½


This new album by Joe Morris, Ken Vandermark and Luther Gray looked promising with those names on the cover, but after several listens, I must admit that I do not quite understand this music. There is some fierce playing going on here, very atonal and uncompromising, but I'm unsure of what they're trying to achieve or what it's all leading to. Joe Morris is of course a special kind of guitar player, with a style all his own, often limiting himself to playing fast notes without coherence, without structure, stuttering, sputtering without end. On one of his better albums "Beautiful Existence" he plays very much in the same vein, but not only like that, and that CD also includes some great compositions such as "King Cobra". Ken Vandermark is of course skilled enough to play along, to dive into Morris's music with his tenor skills, and Luter Gray is powerful too on drums. But strong musicians may be a necessary condition for great music, but not a sufficient one, as is again demonstrated here.

Downloadable on emusic.com

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Stef,
I understand your point but it will change if you listen to this record more often. I told it to Joe Morris when he sent it to me, you have to listen to it really carefully a bunch of times to get the real meaning of this music. It's a very deep record and surely one of my favourite Clean Feed CD's.
Pedro Costa.

stef said...

Pedro, that's probably why I have this uneasy feeling about this album. I'll keep listening and hope you're right.

stef

Anonymous said...

Please do.
I consider your taste very much and it's hard for me to believe that after a couple more hearings you won't change your opinion because the same happened to me.
Thanks for your ongoing support !

Pedro.

cUPS said...

hi there, I respect anyone's opinion as their own, so I won't try to change it.
But I do take issue with your pronouncement that Joe utter this nonsensical stream of sputter and spit without end, without coherence? there is an incredibly subtle and elegant coherence to Joe's playing, you just have to have good enough ears to appreciate what he's doign thematically and harmonically/intervalically.
To say Joe is incoherent would be to say that Eric Dolphy is incoherent, which is obviously not true!
I am listening to this album for the first time I love the subdued Modality of it, especially rebus 5, where Joe is doing this beautiful African sounding Ostinato on the low strings, bowing and scraping with his pick and pushing the strings off the fretboard to creative the percussive sounds. I love that effect.
anyway, keep listening, keep your ears and mind and heart open and maybe you'll tap into the beauty that Joe has to offer.
If you want a really accesible Joe experience listen to the latest In Order To survive big band album, on one of the tracks he does a ferocious double solo with Rob Brown (my fave altoist!) Morning Mantra. amazing!
cheers,
lane

polish jazz said...

Well, 2 1/2 stars that's way too few for this music indeed. Joe Morris is absolute master of free jazz guitar here with fantastic support from Vandermark tenor and Gray drums. Stunning record!