Joe Morris (guitarist)

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Joe Morris
Birth name Joseph Francis Michael Morris
Born (1955-09-13) September 13, 1955 (age 62)
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Genres Jazz, avant-garde, free jazz, free improvisation
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar
Labels Riti, Aum Fidelity, Leo, Soul Note, Knitting Factory, Clean Feed, ESP, Hathut, RogueArt

Joseph Francis Michael Morris (born September 13, 1955) is an American jazz guitarist, bassist, improvisor, and composer.

Life and career

Joe Morris was born in New Haven, Connecticut, United States in 1955. He started on guitar in 1969 and played his first professional gig later that year. With the exception of a few lessons, he is self-taught. The influence of Jimi Hendrix and other guitarists of that period led him to concentrate on learning to play the blues. John Coltrane's Om inspired him to learn about jazz. He worked to establish his own voice on guitar in a free jazz context from the age of 17. After high school he performed in rock bands, rehearsed in jazz bands, and played improvised music until 1975, when he moved to Boston.[1]

In 1983 he formed his own record company, Riti, and recorded his first album, Wraparound. An early mentor and playing partner was pianist Lowell Davidson.[2]

Between 1989 and 1993 he performed and recorded with his electric trio Sweatshop and electric quartet Racket Club. In 1994 he became the first guitarist to lead his own session in the twenty-year history of Black Saint/Soul Note with the trio recording Symbolic Gesture, and he has continued to record extensively for many labels such as Leo, Knitting Factory, AUM Fidelity, Hathut, Clean Feed, ESP and RogueArt. In addition to leading his own groups, he has recorded and performed with among others: Matthew Shipp, William Parker, John Zorn, Joe Maneri, Rob Brown, Ivo Perelman, Ken Vandermark and DKV Trio, Jim Hobbs, Steve Lantner, Daniel Levin, Petr Cancura and David S. Ware.[1]

He has lectured and conducted workshops throughout the US and Europe. He is a former member of the faculty of Tufts University Extension College and is currently on the faculty at New England Conservatory in the jazz and improvisation department.[3]


Morris has stated that his single-note technique was inspired more by traditional African music, and by saxophone players like Eric Dolphy and Jimmy Lyons, than by other guitarists. He cites as influences Cecil Taylor, Eric Dolphy, Leroy Jenkins, Thelonious Monk, Jimi Hendrix, and West African string music.[3] In his solo work, he avoids distortion and guitar effects. He uses a serrated pick to "bow" the strings of his guitar and to create an otherworldly, harmonic-rich sound. He also plays banjo and banjo-uke, and since 2000 has concentrated on playing bass.[1]


As leader/co-leader

Release year Title Label Personnel/Notes
1983 Wraparound Riti Trio with Sebastian Steinberg (bass), Laurence Cook (drums)
1987 Human Rites Riti Trio with Sebastian Steinberg (bass), Thurman Barker (drums)
1990 Sweatshop Riti Trio with Sebastian Steinberg (bass), Jerome Deupree (drums)
1992 Flip and Spike Riti Trio with Sebastian Steinberg (bass), Jerome Deupree (drums)
1994 Symbolic Gesture Soul Note Trio with Nate McBride (bass), Curt Newton (drums)
1995 Illuminate Leo Quartet, co-led with Rob Brown (alto sax), William Parker (bass), Jackson Krall (drums)
1995 No Vertigo Leo
1996 Elsewhere Homestead Quartet with Matthew Shipp (piano), William Parker (bass), Whit Dickey (drums)
1997 You Be Me Soul Note Quartet with Mat Maneri (violin), Nate McBride (bass), Curt Newton (drums)
1997 Invisible Weave No More Duo with William Parker (bass)
1997 Antennae AUM Fidelity Trio with Nate McBride (bass), Jerome Deupree (drums)
1998 Racket Club About Time Sextet with Jim Hobbs (alto sax), Steve Norton (baritone sax), Nate McBride (electric bass), Jerome Deupree, Curt Newton (drums)
1998 Like Rays Knitting Factory Free improvisation trio with Ken Vandermark (clarinet), Hans Poppel (piano)
1998 A Cloud of Black Birds AUM Fidelity Quartet with Chris Lightcap (bass), Mat Maneri (violin), Jerome Deupree (drums)
1999 Deep Telling Okka Disk With the DKV Trio: Hamid Drake (drums), Kent Kessler (bass), Ken Vandermark (tenor sax)
1999 Many Rings Knitting Factory Quartet with Karen Borca (bassoon), Rob Brown (alto sax, flute), Andrea Parkins (accordion, sampler)
1999 Underthru OmniTone Quartet with Mat Maneri (violin), Chris Lightcap (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums)
2000 Soul Search AUM Fidelity Duo with Mat Maneri (electric violin)
2000 At the Old Office Knitting Factory Quartet with Mat Maneri (violin), Chris Lightcap (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums)
2001 Singularity AUM Fidelity Solo guitar
2002 Age of Everything Riti Trio with Timo Shanko (bass), Luther Gray (drums)
2003 Likewise Riti As part of the band Stone House; trio with Luther Gray (drums), Rob Brown (alto sax, flute)
2005 Beautiful Existence Clean Feed Quartet with Jim Hobbs (alto sax), Timo Shanko (bass), Luther Gray (drums)
2007 Rebus Clean Feed Free improvisation trio with Ken Vandermark (tenor sax), Luther Gray (drums)
2008 High Definition hatOLOGY As the band Bass Quartet, with Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet, trumpet, flugelhorn), Allan Chase (saxophones), Luther Gray (drums)
2008 Elm City Duets Clean Feed Duo with Barre Phillips (bass)
2009 MVP LSD Riti Trio with John Voigt (bass), Tom Plsek (trombone)
2009 Wildlife AUM Fidelity Trio with Petr Cancura (saxophones), Luther Gray (drums)
2009 The Necessary and the Possible Victo Free improvisation trio with Simon H. Fell (bass), Alex Ward (clarinet)
2009 Colorfield ESP-Disk Trio with Steve Lantner (piano), Luther Gray (drums)
2009 Today on Earth AUM Fidelity Quartet with Jim Hobbs (alto sax), Timo Shanko (bass), Luther Gray (drums)
2010 Tooth And Nail Clean Feed Duo with Nate Wooley (trumpet)
2010 Creatures Not Two Duo with Luther Gray (drums)
2010 Camera ESP-Disk Quartet with Luther Gray (drums), Katt Hernandez (violin), Junko Fujiwara Simons (cello)
2010 Sensor No Business Solo bass (LP only)
2011 Night Logic RogueArt Trio with Marshall Allen (alto sax, flute, EVI), Matthew Shipp (piano)
2011 Traits Riti As the band Wildlife; quartet with Luther Gray (drums), Petr Cancura (tenor sax), Jim Hobbs (alto sax)
2011 Ambrosia Riti Duo with Agustí Fernández (piano)
2011 XYX Northern Spy As the band The Spanish Donkey; trio with Jamie Saft (keyboards), Mike Pride (drums)
2012 Graffiti in Two Parts RogueArt Quartet with Lowell Davidson (drums, bass), Malcolm Goldstein (violin), Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris (cornet). Recorded in 1985
2012 Altitude AUM Fidelity Trio with William Parker (bass, sintir), Gerald Cleaver (drums)
2012 From the Discrete to the Particular Relative Pitch Free improvisation trio with Agustí Fernández (piano), Nate Wooley (trumpet)
2013 Black Aces RareNoise As the band Slobber Pup; quartet with Jamie Saft (keyboards), Trevor Dunn (bass), Balázs Pándi (drums)
2014 Balance Clean Feed Quartet with Mat Maneri (viola), Chris Lightcap (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums)
2014 Red Hill RareNoise Quartet with Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet), Jamie Saft (piano, electric piano), Balázs Pándi (drums)
2014 Storms Glacial Erratic Duo with Chris Cretella (acoustic guitar)
2014 Mess Hall hatOLOGY Trio with Jerome Deupree (drums), Steve Lantner (electronic keyboard)
2015 Ninth Square Clean Feed Free improvisation trio with Evan Parker (saxophones), Nate Wooley (trumpet)
2015 Raoul RareNoise As the band The Spanish Donkey; trio with Jamie Saft (keyboards), Mike Pride (drums)
2015 Ticonderoga Clean Feed Quartet with Joe McPhee (saxophones), Jamie Saft (piano), Charles Downs (drums)
2015 Pole Axe RareNoise As the band Slobber Pup; quartet with Jamie Saft (keyboards), Mats Gustafsson (tenor sax), Balázs Pándi (drums)
2015 Solos Bimhuis Relative Pitch Solo guitar
2016 Shock Axis Relative Pitch Trio with Chris Cretella (electric bass), Dave Parmelee (drums)

As sideman

Release year Leader Title Label
1992 Brown, RobRob Brown Youniverse Riti
2005 Brown, RobRob Brown Radiant Pools RogueArt
2009 Cancura, PetrPetr Cancura Fine Objects Not Two
2000 Dickey, WhitWhit Dickey Big Top Wobbly Rail
2002 Dickey, WhitWhit Dickey Prophet Moon Riti
2004 Dickey, WhitWhit Dickey Coalescence Clean Feed
2005 Dickey, WhitWhit Dickey In a Heartbeat Clean Feed
2006 Dickey, WhitWhit Dickey Sacred Ground Clean Feed
2008 Drake, HamidHamid Drake Blissful RogueArt
2009 Flow Trio, Flow Trio Rejuvenation ESP-Disk
2011 Flow Trio, Flow Trio Set Theory, Live at the Stone Ayler
2006 Gonzalez, DennisDennis Gonzalez No Photograph Available Clean Feed
2009 Gonzalez, DennisDennis Gonzalez Songs of Early Autumn No Business
2011 Håker Flaten, IngebrigtIngebrigt Håker Flaten Now Is Clean Feed
2010 Haynes, StephenStephen Haynes Parrhesia Engine
2015 Haynes, StephenStephen Haynes Pomegranate New Atlantis
2008 Hobbs, JimJim Hobbs The Story of Mankind Not Two
2011 Kaplan, NoahNoah Kaplan Descendants hatOLOGY
2000 Lantner, SteveSteve Lantner Voices Lowered Leo
2004 Lantner, SteveSteve Lantner Saying So Riti
2005 Lantner, SteveSteve Lantner Blue Yonder Skycap
2006 Lantner, SteveSteve Lantner Paradise Road Skycap
2007 Lantner, SteveSteve Lantner What You Can Throw hatOLOGY
2008 Lantner, SteveSteve Lantner Given – Live in Munster hatOLOGY
2004 Levin, DanielDaniel Levin Don't Go it Alone Riti
2006 Levin, DanielDaniel Levin Some Trees hatOLOGY
2007 Levin, DanielDaniel Levin Blurry hatOLOGY
1995 Maneri, JoeJoe Maneri Three Men Walking ECM
1996 Maneri, JoeJoe Maneri Out Right Now hatOLOGY
2002 Parker, WilliamWilliam Parker Eloping with the Sun Riti
2007 Parker, WilliamWilliam Parker Double Sunrise Over Neptune AUM Fidelity
2016 Parker, WilliamWilliam Parker Counteract This Turmoil Like Trees And Birds RogueArt
1997 Perelman, IvoIvo Perelman Strings Leo
2011 Perelman, IvoIvo Perelman The Hour of the Star Leo
2012 Perelman, IvoIvo Perelman Family Ties Leo
2012 Perelman, IvoIvo Perelman Living Jelly Leo
2013 Perelman, IvoIvo Perelman One RareNoise
2015 Perelman, IvoIvo Perelman Counterpoint Leo
2016 Perelman, IvoIvo Perelman Blue Leo
2016 Perelman, IvoIvo Perelman Breaking Point Leo
2016 Perelman, IvoIvo Perelman The Art Of The Improv Trio Volume 5 Leo
2016 Perelman, IvoIvo Perelman The Art Of The Improv Trio Volume 6 Leo
1997 Shipp, MatthewMatthew Shipp Thesis hatOLOGY
2007 Shipp, MatthewMatthew Shipp Piano Vortex Thirsty Ear
2008 Shipp, MatthewMatthew Shipp Right Hemisphere RogueArt
2008 Shipp, MatthewMatthew Shipp Cosmic Suite Not Two
2009 Shipp, MatthewMatthew Shipp Harmonic Disorder Thirsty Ear
2010 Shipp, MatthewMatthew Shipp Broken Partials Not Two
2009 Ware, David S.David S. Ware Shakti AUM Fidelity


  • Morris, Joe. Perpetual Frontier / The Properties of Free Music. Riti Publishing, 2012.


  1. ^ a b c Joe Morris at All About Jazz
  2. ^ McCoy, Wilson. "Joe Morris: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved January 30, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Joe Morris at New England Conservatory

External links

  • Official site
  • A Fireside Chat With Joe Morris at All About Jazz
  • Interview: Joe Morris by Phil Freeman at Burning Ambulance
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