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

Darius Jones Trio And Joe Morris Quartet On AUM Fidelity

October 13, 2009

AUM Fidelity is proud to announce the October 13th release of the Darius Jones Trio’s Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) (AUM057) and the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth (AUM058).

The first is alto saxophonist/composer Darius Jones‘ debut recording as a leader featuring Cooper-Moore (piano and diddley-bo) and Rakalam Bob Moses (drums).

What the critics say:

“A phenomenal debut, Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) presents the singular artistry of Darius Jones; a new voice poised to receive widespread acclaim from the jazz underground.”
Troy Collins,

“…an incredible recording that will make you sing, make you weep and make you marvel. The best music tells you something not only about the musicians, but about yourself. Man’ish Boy is that kind of record. It’s not just good. It’s important. And we are the richer for its existence.”
Jason Crane,

“On Man’ish Boy, alto saxophonist Darius Jones delivers one of the most impressive debuts in recent memory, displaying a remarkably well-developed concept and individual sound. It’s defiant, vulnerable, proud, and weary; there is laughter and sobbing in it. He imbues simple melodies and phrases with huge emotional weight.”
Ed Hazell,

The other is the second release from guitarist/composer Joe Morris‘ quartet featuring Jim Hobbs (alto saxophone), Timo Shanko (bass) and Luther Gray (drums). It’s also the third AUM Fidelity release this year to feature Morris in a prominent role (David S. Ware’s Shakti and Morris/Cancura/Gray’s Wildlife are the others).

What the critics say:

“Morris is clearly an original.”
Andy Hamilton, The Wire

“To my ears, it’s one of his best. There are moments when this band flat-out swings (Gray, again, brings the joy of propulsion to the forefront); yet, the quieter moments are among the most melodic of Morris’s long career (and he does that without the music sounding ‘commercial’). In a year that has already produced many strong CDs, this Joe Morris Quartet release should make a lot of ‘Best of..’ lists and deservedly so.”
Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant

“No one plays the guitar like Joe Morris, with sharply articulated, single-note lines delivered in a dry tone. Besides the clarity of the playing itself, what stands out is the cogency of Morris’s melodies and the tight unison lines of Morris and Hobbs that puts one in mind of the playing of Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. Easily one of my favourite albums of this fast-waning year.”
Mike Chamberlain, HOUR

“Morris is a master of mixing total improvisational freedom with a realization that swing can be just as liberating as skronk, that a clean tone can say as much as, if not more than, a coruscating flood-tide of noise. Indeed, this album is so pretty that its adventurousness may slip right by on the first few listens. In other words, it’s worth spending time with and getting to know.”
Phil Freeman,

“…Morris maintains a singular approach to the guitar, placing him in the upper echelon of present day improvisers. A brilliant follow-up to Beautiful Existence, and considerably more accessible than some of his more abstract efforts, Today On Earth is a stellar highlight in an exceptional, eclectic discography.”
Troy Collins,

Jones and his trio will celebrate their new release with a performance at AUM Fidelity’s artist showcase at Abrons Arts Center on Thursday night. Morris and his quartet will perform tomorrow night at The Local 269.

Mauger At Firehouse 12 Tonight

October 2, 2009
Photo by Scott Friedlander

Photo by Scott Friedlander

Tonight the all-star trio Mauger comes to New Haven’s Firehouse 12 for its only show of the season, where they will perform selections from last year’s The Beautiful Enabler (Clean Feed).

The group brings together acclaimed saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, a 2007 Guggenheim Fellow and winner of the “Rising Star Jazz Artist” category in this year’s DownBeat Critics’ Poll, with longtime collaborators, and former Anthony Braxton Quartet members, bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Gerry Hemingway.

And, if you’re in the area, or even if you’re not, you can tune in to Middletown’s WESU 88.1 FM today at 1:30 p.m when the Hartford Courant‘s Richard Kamins will interview Steve Lehman about his upcoming Firehouse 12 performance.

Matt Wilson Quartet At Firehouse 12 Tonight

September 25, 2009

Matt Wilson Quartet

The fifth anniversary season of Firehouse 12’s Fall Jazz Series rolls on tonight with two sets from acclaimed drummer/composer Matt Wilson‘s longstanding quartet in celebration of its new CD, That Gonna Leave A Mark (Palmetto).

The group features Andrew D’Angelo (alto saxophone and bass clarinet), Jeff Lederer (clarinets and saxophones) and Chris Lightcap (acoustic and electric bass).

That’s Gonna Leave a Mark has an up-close vivacity—not to mention a Sly Stone shout-out—that makes you salivate for a chance to hear the Matt Wilson Quartet live,” writes the New Haven Advocate‘s Christopher Arnott.

“Firehouse 12 is a perfect place to connect with the band and its music because of the intimacy of the venue and its excellent acoustics,” adds the Hartford Courant‘s Richard Kamins.

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s Wilson demonstrating the positive health effects of listening to jazz:

John Hébert To Weekend At Cornelia Street Cafe

September 24, 2009
Photo by Scott Friedlander

Photo by Scott Friedlander

Bassist/composer John Hébert will celebrate his long-awaited debut release as a leader, Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12 Records), with a two-night stand at New York’s Cornelia Street Cafe starting tomorrow night.

Hébert’s sextet, also called Byzantine Monkey, will feature saxophonists Michaël Attias and Tony Malaby, multi-instrumentalist Adam Kolker, percussionist Satoshi Takeishi and drummer Michael Sarin (sitting in for Nasheet Waits for these two dates).

Known as “an indispensable presence on the local scene” (Hank Shteamer, Time Out New York) and “a bassist of deep intuition and extensive experience as a sideman” (Nate Chinen, New York Times), Hébert is one of the busiest bassists in New York and a regular in the Rising Star Acoustic Bass category of DownBeat’s annual Critics Poll for the past three years.

“On his first album as a leader he displays a sonic vision that’s all his own,” writes DownBeat‘s Peter Margasak, “even while sticking mostly to a support role. The leader has written nine lovely themes, some ebullient, some sorrowful, some fragile, and he directs his cohorts to elucidate and dance around the melodies with a mix of freedom and communicativeness. In particular, the intertwining lines of Tony Malaby, brawny and fat, and Michaël Attias, lithe and stinging, provide an exuberant dance on contrast.”

The Hartford Courant‘s Richard Kamins adds, “Byzantine Monkey takes the listener out of the everyday world into a landscape of mature melodies, splendid musicianship and highly creative interplay. It’s an aural landscape one can return to time and again, uncovering new paths to follow.”

John Hébert’s Debut CD Reviewed In Hartford Courant Blog

June 13, 2009

Byzantine Monkey

Richard Kamins reviewed bassist/composer John Hébert‘s forthcoming debut, Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12 Records), this past week in his Hartford Courant blog, See! Hear!

The disc, which features Hébert’s band of the same name featuring Michaël Attias (alto and baritone saxophones), Tony Malaby (tenor and soprano saxophones), Adam Kolker (flutes and bass clarinet), Nasheet Waits (drums) and Satoshi Takeishi (percussion), officially hits the streets on June 16th.

“First and foremost,” Kamins writes, “Hébert has his own sound, not an easy accomplishment for a bassist.  Big, rich tones and a penchant for melodic lines (even in the most frenetic pieces) makes his playing stand out. Byzantine Monkey takes the listener out of the everyday world into a landscape of mature melodies, splendid musicianship and highly creative interplay. It’s an aural landscape one can return to time and again, uncovering new paths to follow.”

Trio BraamDeJoodeVatcher Preview In Hartford Courant Blog

June 10, 2009
Photo by Goran Potkonjak

Photo by Goran Potkonjak

The Hartford Courant‘s Richard Kamins previews this Friday’s two-set performance by Dutch jazz heavyweights Trio BraamDeJoodeVatcher at New Haven’s Firehouse 12 in his blog, See! Hear! this week.

This is the 13th and final event in the venue’s 2009 Spring Jazz series and will feature special guest, cornetist and Firehouse 12 Records co-founder Taylor Ho Bynum during the second set.

“It’s been quite a season,” Kamins writes. “Many of the shows had sets that sold out (some both sets) and the quality of the music was downright superb.”

Floriculture Previewed In Hartford Courant Blog

June 1, 2009
Photo by Joshua Ponte

Photo by Joshua Ponte

In a new post today, Hartford Courant blogger Richard Kamins previews this Friday’s CD release event for Sided Silver Solid, the new recording by Carl Maguire’s Floriculture, at New Haven’s Firehouse 12.

“The new CD is a fascinating journey from beginning to end,” he writes. “The music slowly and quietly draws the listener in. Along the way, you realize this music is about the intersection of ideas, about the musicians bending their sounds to fit around each other. The more you listen to Sided Silver Solid, its world comes into sharper focus.”

Michael Musillami’s From Seeds Released Today

May 19, 2009

Playscape Recordings is proud to announce today’s release of the Michael Musillami Trio + 3’s From Seeds, the first title released in the label’s 10th anniversary year.

The follow-up to 2007’s The Treatment, his trio’s critically acclaimed collaboration with renowned violinist Mark Feldman, this release finds guitarist/composer Michael Musillami augmenting his seven year-old trio, featuring bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller, with trumpeter Ralph Alessi, multi-instrumentalist Marty Ehrlich and vibraphonist Matt Moran.

The group will celebrate the new disc this week with performances at New Haven’s Firehouse 12 (May 22), Teaneck’s The Puffin Foundation (May 23) and New York’s Cornelia Street Cafe (May 24).

What the critics are saying:

“Building on the jazz tradition with graceful strides, From Seeds is one of Musillami’s finest efforts, and a high water mark for a label whose longstanding dedication to quality is documented in each release.”
Troy Collins,

“[Musillami] continues to assert himself not only as a very competent performer, but especially as one of the most innovative composers on the scene. This sextet is potent, equally as able to turn on a dime, ride with the wind, or hop aboard a freight train of steaming power and perseverance…a marvelous new music recording of great depth and vision that retains its vibrancy upon repeated plays…highly recommended.”
Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide

“As much as any of their trio dates, From Seeds shows Musillami, Fonda and Schuller to be one of the finest working units in jazz today, with or without the ‘+3’.”
 —Robert Iannapollo, AllAboutJazz-New York

“If you have been impressed with the guitarist’s mature and intelligent compositions, here are six more. If you have listened over the years, you already know that Musillami is an intrepid arranger and when given the opportunity to score his music, he does so with wit and polish. From Seeds is an aural delight, one more stellar recording from Michael Musillami.”
Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant

Argue’s Secret Is Out

May 1, 2009

The media build-up toward the May 12th release of Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records), composer Darcy James Argue‘s debut studio recording, and the official CD release concert on May 8th at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, continued this week (see this earlier post about the feature in the current issue of Newsweek).

Hartford Courant blogger Richard Kamins writes, “Funded in part by donations from family, friends and fans, the recording is a wonderful combination of sounds, styles, moods and messages.”  

“Darcy James Argue has fashioned a recording that fulfills the promise heard in the many live sessions on his website.  Treat the CD like a favorite book or movie, one that you return to time and again, containing music that with each listening, something new stands out even as you are comforted by sounds you recall.”