Spinner: Top 10 Jazz Albums Of 2009

December 31, 2009

Photo by Dylan Morris

Tad Hendrickson’s Top 10 list is now posted at Spinner.com, and we’re pleased to report that the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity) came out on top. Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam) placed sixth.

“Here with his old quartet of saxophonist Jim Hobbs, bassist Timo Shanko and drummer Luther Gray,” Hendrickson writes, “Morris is at his most eloquent. He writes for these guys as gracefully as he does for himself, conjuring heartfelt melodies. The group responds with revelatory musical voyages and strong interplay.”

“Oftentimes, I don’t really dig the mix of indie rock and jazz,” he continues in his review of Infernal Machines, “but the big-band compositions here are stunning, right up there with Maria Schneider. The guy is making his debut here with a seriously hot record.”


AAJ-NY: Joe Morris Quartet + Eri Yamamoto Trio

December 29, 2009

In addition to the results of the annual Best of 2009 feature, the January issue of AllAboutJazz-New York also includes new reviews of AUM Fidelity‘s latest releases, the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth and the Eri Yamamoto Trio’s In Each Day, Something Good (coming January 12th).

“Longtime Morris collaborators Jim Hobbs (saxophone), Timo Shanko (bass) and Luther Gray (drums) all shine throughout this record,” writes reviewer Wilbur MacKenzie of the former. “Hobbs’ solo on ‘Animal’ is nothing short of astounding in its abstract lyricism, replete with throaty vocalizations, dramatic use of negative space and a gradually expanding phrase structure. Morris’ compositions linger in the ear, as the ensemble dynamics in the improvisations always develop and enrich the evocative themes.”

“Yamamoto’s playing, unhurried and unforced, nevertheless demonstrates an active imagination and gift for melody,” declares Robert Iannapollo, “her improvisations avoid sweeping theatrical gestures in favor of focused introspection, in the spirit of someone who stops along the way to pore over the small details of everyday life that often elude those who hurry on. Displaying an intuitive rapport based on umpteen hours of on-the-job repartee, the trio recalls the close commerce and intimate atmosphere of Bill Evans’ classic group, the musical equivalent of an isosceles triangle.”


Destination:Out’s Fave Jazz Jamz Of 2009

December 22, 2009

It is our pleasure to report that Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam), Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records), Darius Jones’ Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity) and David S. Ware’s Shakti (AUM Fidelity) account for four of the ten recordings included in Destination:Out’s Fave Jazz Jamz of 2009.

Three other AUM Fidelity releases, Cleaver/Parker/Taborn’s Farmers By Nature, Morris/Cancura/Gray’s Wildlife and the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth, were also mentioned in this post, which features an exclusive download from Jones’ Man’ish Boy.


David S. Ware + Cleaver/Parker/Taborn Make Two Of AllMusic.com’s Favorite Jazz Albums Of 2009

December 18, 2009


The editors and staff at AllMusic.com have named David S. Ware’s Shakti and Gerald Cleaver/William Parker/Craig Taborn’s Farmers By Nature, both on AUM Fidelity, two of their Favorite Jazz Albums of 2009.


Signal To Noise: Taylor Ho Bynum, Fonda/Stevens Group, The Fully Celebrated, Darius Jones and Joe Morris

December 14, 2009

The Winter 2010 issue of Signal To Noise arrived this weekend and with it reviews of the latest releases from Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings, the Fonda/Stevens Group, The Fully Celebrated, the Darius Jones Trio and the Joe Morris Quartet.

“Bynum’s compositions consistently engage and amplify the texts [from his sister’s novel, Madeleine is Sleeping],” writes Stuart Broomer in his review of Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records), “and the performances are at a high level. Vocalist Kyoko Kitamura ranges from pensive dramatic readings to jazz-inflected vocals and creative improvisations, performing admirably in the divergent settings. The group’s improvisational skills come to the fore on pieces by three great composers—Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington and Sun Ra—whose works are all subtly complementary…the results are driving, focused, expressive performances that make the most of the jazz tradition.”

“After 20 years of musical partnership, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, bassist Joe Fonda, drummer Harvey Sorgen and trumpeter Herb Robertson have developed a rich chemistry,” declares James Hale. “On Memphis, their 11th recording, the quartet surges with energy—equal parts Stevens’ proclivity for aggresive vamps, Robertson’s slippery slalom runs, and a wrecking crew of a rhythm duo. When the mood turns somber individual members find ways of keeping the tension high, whether its Fonda’s abrasive arco on ‘For My Brother’ or the free segments that alternate with Stevens’ pretty theme on ‘Whale Majesty.'”

“Alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs, bassist Timo Shanko and drummer Django Carranza hammer away at eight slices of groove-based music that is is peppy, incisive and yes, amusing,” explains Jay Collins in his review of Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity). “The Fully Celebrated is a group that doesn’t take themselves too seriously, but the music is of high caliber and a hell of a lot of fun.”

Marc Medwin describes the Darius Jones Trio’s debut, Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity), as “a barn-burner from note one. Jones could not have chosen better musicians to enter into his world, with Cooper-Moore and drummer Rakalam Bob Moses enhancing every moan, cry and shriek emanating from his alto.”

Jay Collins calls the Joe Morris Quartet’s second release, Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity), “Morris at his most accessible. His tremendous single-note flurries come to bear immediately on the boppish ‘Backbone’ and the exuberantly swinging ‘Imaginary Solutions.’ The quartet’s keen melodic sense is eveident on ‘Ashes’ and the ruminative ‘Animal,’ especially in Hobbs’s earthy, gripping saxophone playing. Hobbs and Morris’s unison lines against the rhythm section’s restless activity are part of the record’s pleasures. Like Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones, Today on Earth has it all: smart compositional structures that launch tasty, unpredictable improvisations.”


Jazzwise: Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity)

December 2, 2009


The new December 2009/January 2010 issue of the UK’s Jazzwise features a review of the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity) by Kevin Le Gendre.

“As with the previous release Wildlife, ” he writes, “there is a distinct ensemble voice, a lithe, supple sound comes through, and looks as if it will continue to grow over time. Morris’ rising stature as a composer-leader and soloist is indisputable.”


Remembering 2009

November 23, 2009

Image from TheDailyGreen.com
The latest can to be kicked around the jazz blogosphere (and beyond) is what records make the cut as the best of the decade.

As much as we enjoy the opportunity to reminisce about our first seven-plus years in business, and the 135 recordings we promoted for our clients in that span, we’re not quite ready to dip a toe in that nearly bottomless pool just yet.

But, we’re more than happy to shine a light on the recordings we promoted for our clients in 2009 (in order of their release).

Hopefully at least a few of these will end up on your year’s best list or at least your list for Santa.

David S. Ware
Shakti (AUM Fidelity)

Gerald Cleaver/William Parker/Craig Taborn
Farmers By Nature (AUM Fidelity)

The Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra
Muse (Creative Nation Music)

Garrison Fewell
Variable Density Sound Orchestra (Creative Nation Music)

Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society
Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records)

Michael Musillami Trio + 3
From Seeds (Playscape Recordings)

The Fully Celebrated
Drunk On The Blood Of The Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity)

John Hébert
Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12 Records)

Carl Maguire’s Floriculture
Sided Silver Solid (Firehouse 12 Records)

Joe Morris/Petr Cancura/Luther Gray
Wildlife (AUM Fidelity)

KLANG
Tea Music (Allos Documents)

Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings
Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records)

Fay Victor Ensemble
The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue Music)

Fonda/Stevens Group
Memphis (Playscape Recordings)

Harris Eisenstadt
Canada Day (Clean Feed)

Darius Jones Trio
Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity)

Joe Morris Quartet
Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity)

Jessica Pavone
Songs Of Synastry And Solitude (Tzadik)

Bill Dixon
Tapestries For Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records)


Paris Transatlantic: Darius Jones Trio + Joe Morris Quartet

November 6, 2009

Clifford Allen reviews the two latest AUM Fidelity releases, the Darius Jones Trio’s Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) and the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth, in the Autumn 2009 edition of Paris Transatlantic.

“Darius Jones’ art has an incredible purity and directness—what Cooper-Moore has called a ‘yes, sir’ quality,” Allen explains. “It’s a quality he shares with Sonny Simmons, Marion Brown and Charles Tyler, but the real connection is the respect instilled through absorbing the tradition and living history of musicianship.”

In his review of Today On Earth, Allen writes, “The Joe Morris Quartet plumbs the depths of postbop, building off the skewed rapport between [Jim] Hobbs and Morris: the guitarist’s flinty plucking and behind-the-beat chords are the left hand to the altoist’s acrid right. By now Morris’s longtime working group has established a language wholly its own, an ideal springboard for spindly inversions and lean fantasias.”


The Blogosphere Hearts Joe Morris

October 29, 2009

Excerpts from recent blog reviews of the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity):

“The music, performed by Morris (guitar), Jim Hobbs (alto saxophone), Timo Shanko (bass) and Luther Gray (drums), holds up quite impressively under repeated listenings. The tracks are fairly long (4 over 10 minutes and only 1 under 7), but several of them move so gracefully (‘Observer’, ‘Ashes’) it’s easy to get lost in the sonic world the quartet creates. It’s been over 3 decades since Joe Morris first came to critical notice and he continues to grow as a composer and musician, creating challenging music for open minds.”
Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant’s See! Hear!

“Joe Morris is having one of them crazy years. Nothing can seem to stop him, as he is releasing one CD after another. The latest—and best!—one is this studio session with his quartet. One of the best jazz albums of 2009.”
François Couture, Monsieur Delire

“Four of the seven tracks on Today On Earth clock in at 10 or 11 minutes, and all of that time is well spent. Of his recent releases, this album is one of the best place to start (behind the Flow Trio), since its places his adventurous improvisational chops in a setting that makes them stand out even more.”
Mike Shanley, shanleyonmusic

“…the main strength of the album is the truly wonderful compositions, which are refined, carefully structured, compelling and beautifully performed…here [Morris’] playing is much closer to the traditional jazz guitar, and I must say, it suits him well. And the band is absolutely stunning, in its pretenseless, unassuming playing, yet delivering a rare level of combined accuracy of tone and interaction, giving space, dialoguing well, giving the right emphasis at the right time, and adding loads of emotional depth: truly great. But as said, the real treat are the compositions, with themes like ‘Animal’ or ‘Observer’ that will keep ringing in your head long after you’ve stopped listening to the music.”
Stef Gijssels, Free Jazz


Interviewing Joe Morris

October 16, 2009
Photo by Dylan Morris

Photo by Dylan Morris

It’s Joe Morris‘ world and we’re just working in it. Or at least that’s what you might think given the guitarist/bassist’s prolific output these days, which includes appearances on nearly two dozen recordings since the beginning of 2008.

We’re pleased to say that his recent efforts as a leader-co-leader, not to mention his sideman work on David S. Ware’s latest recording, Shakti, for AUM Fidelity have been among his most well-received of the bunch.

Three new interviews with Morris were posted this week exploring his career, and the latest Joe Morris Quartet recording, Today On Earth, from different angles. Please check them out at le son du grisli, The Jazz Session and Spinner.com