Joe Morris Quartet: A Cloud of Black Birds CD
In Autumn of 1998, AUM Fidelity very proudly presented this brand new body of work from peerless guitarist-improviser-composer Joe Morris. This impeccable quartet had been honing the material & their collective voice on stage before hitting the studio to record. It is one of our absolute favorites in Morris' now radically extensive & diverse catalog of works, and is without question a crowning achievement in this vernacular, or any genre of music. Sinuous & seductive.
Following are press responses following its original release..
"A guitarist who computes the full matrix of influences from jazz to rock, but mostly jazz, uncovers labyrinths of riffs in the higher frets that have a mesmerizing ingenuity reminiscent of Ornette at full bore, enigmatic and compulsively listenable." –Gary Giddins, Village Voice
"Listening to the Joe Morris Quartet is astonishing – because his departure from syntactic thinking is challenging and yet so, well, pretty. The music seems alien because it so clearly belongs in the natural world from which Western man has taken great pains to separate himself. Yet Morris communicates. If anything, he shows how we retain intuitive links to the natural world."
–Jeff Bagato, The Washington Post
"If Pat Metheny is a household name, and Bill Frisell a beloved cult figure, then Boston guitarist Joe Morris is the genius inventor down the street you never hear about until one day – kapow! – when he figures out how to split the atom. On his latest album Morris gets mighty close .. These seven instrumentals show off not only Morris' intricate patterns of cleanly articulated notes but a vigorously intuitive quartet whose collective verve radiates an instantaneous joy."
–Steve Dollar, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Entirely free from histrionics and self-indulgence, A Cloud Of Black Birds succeeds through sustained collective improvisation. Its radiance is that of dynamism, not flashiness, creating an integrated musical bio-system, rather than a facile showcase for self-reflective virtuosity." –Julian Cowley, The Wire
"Morris's playing often has the urgency of birds in flight, with his rapidly picked melody lines darting in unexpected directions, notes tumbling over one another. Joining him here is fellow Bostonian Mat Maneri, whose quicksilver violin is currently one of the most expressive voices in improvised music. Over the churning rhythm section of drummer Jerome Deupree and bassist Chris Lightcap, Morris and Maneri spin skeins of notes that dip and soar. At points, the music resembles an Indian raga in its complexity and organization; at others, it has the pure, deep emotion of an Ornette Coleman solo."
–James Hale, Ottawa Citizen
"Guitar Colossus ::
Boston's Joe Morris may be the most distinctive guitarist playing jazz and A Cloud of Black Birds is one of his best releases. Since the mid-1980s he's developed a highly personal, clear-toned language, melodic as it is abstract, built around lengthy, labyrinthine single-note runs which he masterfully adapts to the demands of each project. His current band – violinist Mat Maneri, bassist Chris Lightcap, and drummer Jerome Deupree – probe off-kilter freebop; these lyrical tunes swing, but the solo flights are consistently knotty and freewheeling, pushing the boundaries of raw expressionism without surrendering the music's rhythmic drive or its sophisticated melodicism. The album's density requires close attention, but the pay-off is sumptuous.
–Peter Margasak, Soundstone
"Utterly divine, a combination of intense communication, gorgeous symmetry, and deep-minded exploration. With wisdom and confidence at his back, Morris sets forth on this record with Maneri, Lightcap and Deupree in search of an intricate link, an inexpressible understanding, a thread to bind the seams of their individual knowledge, improvisational mastery and strong voices, but more-so to express the potency of self-actualization through recognizing one's place not only within a group, but within the complex and ever-evolving sphere of life." –Steve Brydges, Copper Press