The fact that Joe Morris has become a prominent double bassist after just twelve years of practising the instrument is in itself a special achievement. Still, Traits – a record that features him with the alto/tenor sax tandem of Jim Hobbs and Peter Cancura, plus drummer Luther Gray – is important for a lot of different reasons, the single participants’ adroitness being merely one. The attribute that instantly made us feel a part of the music’s flow is a combination of exemption from formulas – or, if you prefer, authentic freedom – and unpremeditated propulsion, a conjunction of elements that induces a functional, almost physical impact of this recording as an organic whole. This requires a specific connectedness, something that comes with long periods of reciprocal acquaintance: sharing stretches of life while growing as a performing collective is fundamental to avoid the cliché-ridden vacuousness shown by a good number of satiated jazz units. There’s room for agile bass soloism, for scorching altercations (but also emotional concordance) between the reeds and, in the case of Gray, for displaying a command of several percussive idioms without giving the idea of showing off. The fusion of Hobbs and Cancura’s challenging spurts with the ever-creative fibrous consistency of the leader’s lines turns the basis of what would risk to be a regular improvisation set into a collection of agnostic hymns to the abolishment of grant-searching expediency. This means much more to me than describing drum rolls and saxophone blasts; it’s how these details commingle that makes the difference here.

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