New York's white guitarist and occasional bassist Joe Morris (1955),
who had already debuted with the live Wraparound (february 1983) in a trio with bassist Sebastian Steinberg and drummer Laurence Cook,
was revealed by the live improvisations with a rhythm section
(bassist Sebastian Steinberg and either Jerry Deupree or Thurman Barker on drums)
of 1985-87 collected on the double LP Human Rites (december 1987).
Unreleased for a long time was
Graffiti In Two Parts (may 1985 - Rogue Art, 2012), a live
date with violinist Malcolm Goldstein, cornet player Butch Morris and
Lowell Davidson on acoustic bass and drums.
More trio recordings followed:
Sweatshop (two sessions, in october 1988 and january 1990),
soul and funk (Sebastian Steinberg on bass and Jerry Deupree on drums),
the cerebral and ambitious Flip & Spike (? 1992) with the same
the live Symbolic Gesture (june 1993) with bassist Nate McBride
and drummer Curt Newton,
More substantial was Racket Club (june 1993),
influenced by Ornette Coleman's Prime Time band, for a sextet
(two drummers, two saxophonists, a bassist), alas an experiment he would never
Morris perhaps shone better when he was not the protagonist:
on Illuminate (november 1993), in a quartet with
alto saxophonist Rob Brown, bassist William Parker and drummer Jackson Krall;
on Three Men Walking (november 1995), in a trio of reeds, violin and guitar with Joe Maneri and Mat Maneri,
with leftovers of those sessions collected on Out Right Now (november 1995);
on You Be Me (april 1995), in a quartet with bassist Nate McBride, drummer Curt Newton and violinist Mat Maneri;
and especially on Elsewhere (february 1996), with pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist William Parker and drummer Whit Dickey.
However, the solos of No Vertigo (april 1995),
the duets of Thesis (january 1997)
and Broken Partials (february 2010)
with Matthew Shipp,
and the duets of Invisible Weave (january 1997) with bassist William Parker
established his credentials among the community of abstract improvisors.
The trio format of
Like Rays (june 1996) with Ken Vandermark and Hans Poppel,
as well as the live Antennae (july 1997) with bassist Nate McBride and drummer Jerome Deupree
sounded like a self-indulgent distraction.
There were also interesting ventures into collective improvisation:
Deep Telling (april 1998) with the DKV Trio (tenor saxophonist Ken Vandermark, bassist Kent Kessler and percussionist Hamid Drake);
Many Rings (february 1999) with bassoon player Karen Borca, alto saxman/flutist Rob Brown and accordion player Andrea Parkins;
and the two quartets with violinist Mat Maneri A Cloud of Black Birds (june 1998) and Underthru (march 1999), as well as the live At the Old Office (december 1999) with Mat Maneri on viola.
His most experimental works were:
the duets with Mat Maneri of Soul Search (august 1999),
the acoustic guitar solos of Singularity (may 2000),
the Four Improvisations (july 2007) wth Anthony Braxton,
the ten banjo solos of Atmosphere (march 2008),
the duets with pioneering improvising bassist Barre Phillips on Elm City Duets (june 2006),
the four lengthy solos of Colorfield (may 2009), which constitute a lyrical peak of Morris' art,
the solo bass album Sensor (february 2010),
the duets with trumpeter Nate Wooley of Tooth And Nail (august 2008),
the duets with drummer Luther Gray of Creatures (april 2009),
the duets with pianist Agusti Fernandez of Ambrosia (october 2010).
At the same time he continued to explore all sorts of formats:
the trio with Joe Maneri (alto & tenor sax) and Steven Lantner (piano) of Voices Lowered (august 2000);
the trio with drummer William Parker and bassist Hamid Drake of Eloping With The Sun (december 2001);
the four lengthy trio excursions of Age Of Everything (january 2002) with
bassist Timo Shanko and drummer Luther Gray;
the quartet of Beautiful Existence (october 2004) with Jim Hobbs on alto sax;
the trio of Rebus (january 2006) with Ken Vandermark and Luther Gray;
the trio of Fine Objects (february 2007) with drummer Jason Nazary and saxophonist Peter Cancura;
the trio of The Story Of Mankind (june 2007) with alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs and drummer Luther Gray;
the bland Bass Quartet of High Definition (december 2007) with Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet, trumpet and flugelhorn), Allan Chase (alto, baritone and tenor saxophones) and Luther Gray (drums);
the trio with bassist Simon Fell and clarinetist Alex Ward
of the live improvisations The Necessary And The Possible (may 2008)
on which he played acoustic guitar;
the quartet of Today on Earth (2009) with saxophonist Jim Hobbs, bassist Timo Shanko and drummer Luther Gray;
the quartet of Camera (april 2010) with Katt Hernandez on violin, Junko Fujiwara Simons on cello and Luther Gray on drums;
the trio with bassoon player Sara Schoenbeck and Taylor Ho Bynum on cornemeuse, flugelhorn and piccolo of Next (november 2009);
the trio with bassist William Parker and drummer Gerald Cleaver of
Altitude (june 2011).
The trio of Joe Morris (guitar), Agusti Fernandez (piano) and Nate Wooley (trumpet) recorded the seven lenghty improvisations of From The Discreet To The Particular (july 2011).
An important step took place when he played bass in a
trio with alto saxophonist Petr Cancura and drummer Luther Gray
for the lengthy ruminations of Wildlife (march 2008).
The trio became a quartet, still named Wildlife, with the addition of alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs on Traits (october 2010).
Mess Hall (october 2011) documents a studio improvisation by a trio with Stave Lantner (electric keyboard) and Jerome Deupree (drums).
(featuring the Melvins' bassist Trevor Dunn, organist Jamie Saft and Hungarian drummer Balazs Pandi)
Black Aces (Rarenoise, 2013),
and returned with Pole Axe (december 2013), having lost Dunn but acquired
saxophonist Mats Gustafsson.
A trio with
altosaxophonist Fausto Sierakowski and
Nigel Taylor on amplified trumpet and percussion recorded
the improvisations of
Part and Parcel (Bug Incision, 2013).
Plymouth (Rare Noise, 2014) launched a new project with Jamie Saft (organ, echoplex piano, Fender Rhodes), Joe Morris (electric guitar), Chris Lightcap (electric bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums) and Mary Halvorson (electric guitar)
Joe Morris' Quartet, featuring violist Mat Maneri, bassist
Chris Lightcap and drummer Gerald Cleaver, recorded
Balance (december 2013).
Storms (may 2014) documents acoustic duets with fellow guitarist
Solos Bimhuis (october 2014) collects
solos for acoustic guitar, notably
the 26-minute Story.
(with Jamie Saft on microtonal organ, synthesizers and echoplex piano,
and Mike Pride on drums)
recorded XYX (Northern Spy, 2011) and
Raoul (Rare Noise, 2015), that includes the
Counterpoint (march 2015) featured a trio with Ivo Perelman and Mat Maneri (viola).
Ticonderoga (december 2014) debuted a new project with Charles Downs (drums), Jamie Saft (piano) and Joe McPhee (tenor and soprano saxes): Mohawk.
Joe Morris' trio with Chris Cretella on electric bass and Dave Parmelee on drums debuted on Shock Axis (june 2015).
Ultra (july 2011) was an experiment with Junko Fujiwara (cello), Agusti Fernandez (piano), Yasmine Azaiez (violin) and Tanya Kalmanowitch (violin and viola).
Joe Morris formed Racehorse Names with drummer Ben Hall, keyboardist Mick Dobday, Anthony Levin-Decanini (electronics), Ronnie Zawadi (percussion), John Dierker (reeds) and Mike Khoury (viola and violin). The group debuted on New Favorite Thing Called Breathing (Relative Pitch, 2017).
Geometry Of Caves (december 2016) features Tomeka Reid on cello, Joe Morris on guitar, Kyoko Kitamura on voice and Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet, piccolo and bass trumpets.