Joe Morris is one of the rare ones. A player who sets up great challenges for himself, and proceeds to meet them head on with resounding success. He plays the guitar like no one else; for comparative description, it's actually easier to refer to a horn player like Jimmy Lyons or Eric Dolphy than any other guitarist in the history of the instrument's existence. To be honest, the fretboard leaps unleashed to actualize the phrasing in his music often times seem superhuman.
For the last 30 years and over the course of well over 50 albums recorded since the early 80's, Morris has been creating a body of work that stands and walks with giants. It is his first-hand awareness of music's ability to transform a listener's mental state outside of the here and now, that has driven him to reach levels of virtuosity and a breadth of expression on guitar which are presently unsurpassed. The silk in the web he weaves is of the absolute finest grade. The web of music itself however, it's intricacies and continually revealing patterns, prompts true awe.
In early 2001, Morris picked up the acoustic bass and began playing this instrument as well (see second line of first paragraph above). In 2002, he revived his Riti label (distributed by AUM Fidelity), and proceeded to issue a stunning series of limited edition albums featuring his most recent group work on both guitar and bass.
It is late March 2009 as this paragraph is written. Since this page was last updated in 2004, a dozen striking new albums featuring Joe Morris as a leader/co-leader have been released, and his guitar and bass voices have appeared on 20 additional albums besides. On guitar, these releases include deep telling (profound) duos with Anthony Braxton and Barre Phillips, and an album from David S. Ware's rapturous Shakti quartet. On bass he has most notably been a member of the Matthew Shipp Trio, featured on pianist Steve Lantner's albums and within his own Bass Quartet music.
2009 marked AUM Fidelity working closely with Joe Morris anew. The first of the 2009 'Morris/AUM triptych' was the MVP-LSD album on Riti. Following in July was Joe Morris' Wildlife (Joe on bass, Petr Cancura on tenor sax, Luther Gray on drums = collective levitational improv beauty) and in the Fall of 2009 the very long awaited new Joe Morris Quartet album (with Jim Hobbs: alto, Timo Shanko: bass, Luther Gray: drums), Today on Earth, deep and joyous rewards to the fore! And the great work continues.. -SJ