Thursday, June 28, 2001

Review - Singularity

Artist: Joe Morris

Posted on Thu, Jun 28, 2001 at 4:00 AM

Compared to most avant-jazz guitarists, Joe Morris is practically a monk. He plays a Gibson Les Paul but favors a Jim Hallish sound, free of any notable effects or amplifier push. So armed, he sidesteps chords and digs into a distinctive style of single-string playing that demands -- and delivers -- a steady stream of angular melodies, riffs and ideas. "Singularity" brings Morris' monastic rigor into sharp focus in a format new for him, at least on disc: solo acoustic performance.

Cut in a single day in May 2000, the 10 pieces on "Singularity" make plain why it's easier to compare Morris with horn players than guitarists. Though he builds a theme for the opening "Light" out of two-note clusters, his reliance on cogent single-string improvisation and his stirring, pulse-conscious phrasing infuse his playing with a saxophonist's concern for line and breath. Newcomers might want to start elsewhere, but fans should flock to this intimate look inside Morris' astringent style and sound.

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