JOE MORRIS – Mess Hall


Joe Morris: electric guitar; Steve Lantner: electronic keyboard; Jerome Deupree: drums

Quite modestly, Joe Morris describes the music comprised by Mess Hall as improvisations born from a “couple of ideas” presented to his comrades Lantner and Deupree, enthusiastically and rightly credited for the accomplishment of success in this artistic venture. The five tracks research into aspects related to timbral modification, analysis (and potential reshaping) of the syntax of free-form guitar, and interaction between shifty layers of harsh frequencies. Besides the heavily processed axe, Lantner’s keyboard’s tones are also significantly altered, responding to Morris’ need of further exploring the use of his instrument as a generator of acrid colors and misshapen turbulence rather than a mere means for predigested chords, scales and arpeggios.

In that regard, the nominal leader refers to Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin, James “Blood” Ulmer and Bill Frisell to give an idea about what he considers true innovation in this specific sphere of acoustic investigation. To continue the game, these ears would gladly add Sonny Sharrock to the list, given the sense of unmediated freedom from schemes and raw intensity expressed across the disc (with particular emphasis in the nearly tribal “Response Arena” and in the self-explanatory “Advaced Animal”). The trio extracts the quintessence of sonic dissension from almost every combination, turning idiosyncratic discharges into parallel flows of melodic and rhythmic liberation that leave no handles to grip at in terms of tough intervals and intransigent clusters.

Having bestowed a smattering of deserved kudos to Deupree’s unforgiving wipeout of regular metres in a way that could be described as “cosmically fractal”, this reviewer would like to invite the informal listener to step forward and accept the nomination to captive listener. Translation: this is not your average “pretty-in-plink” jazz album. It’s a big-boned, spirited, barefaced attempt to teach how the higher stages of perception must be reached via the individual ability of discerning atypical patterns, thorny harmonic bushes and rough contrapuntal crystals inside an unconventional aggregation of instrumental voices. Trust my advice: spend three/four consecutive hours with these recordings in your headphones. At the end you might feel mentally stronger, more aware of the surrounding particles, and less inclined to the cult of swing.

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