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Monday, July 27, 2009

Joe Morris - Wildlife (AUM Fidelity, 2009) ****

It is extremely rare to have a record start with a three-minute drum solo, as an introduction for an uptempo free bop power improvisation by a trio. The band is Joe Morris on bass, Petr Cancura on sax and Luther Gray on drums. "Again?", you might think and you think right. No later than two months ago the almost same trio already released an album, "Fine Objects" on the Polish Not Two Records, only the drummer is different. And whereas the previous album still contained some composed material, the music is more free, more improvised, but as boppish and as likeable. Gray and Morris take care of the drive and the forward motion, Cancura keeps the attention going with his powerful and sensitive playing. The second piece "Thicket" made me think more than once of Ethiopian composer and vibist Mulatu Astatqé, not only because of Cancura's longing and very melodic development, but also because of the more expansive rhythms. Regardless of the influence, the piece is a pure beauty. The third piece "Crow" is more spiritual and bluesy, slow and deep and emotional and soulful, keeping the deep essence of the tradition, but packaged in a more modern and free way. The album ends with the upbeat "Nettle", uptempo and boppish again, full of great playing by all three musicians, and again, as unpretentious and musically honest as their previous release. Luther Gray is great. Morris as unpredictable as ever - and I always welcome his lyricism on bass. Cancura is a guy to watch. Enjoy!

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© stef