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Joe Morris (guitarist)

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Joe Morris
Birth nameJoseph Francis Michael Morris
Born (1955-09-13) September 13, 1955 (age 68)
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
GenresJazz, avant-garde, free jazz, free improvisation
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, educator
LabelsRiti, 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, composer, and educator.

Early life[edit]

Morris was born in New Haven, Connecticut, on September 13, 1955.[1] He switched from trumpet to guitar at the age of fourteen.[1] He was self-taught.[2] His interest in jazz began two years later, after attending a John McLaughlin concert and listening to John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Pharoah Sanders recordings.[1]

Later life and career[edit]

Morris moved to Boston in 1975, "where his unique approach was not initially accepted in the then-prevalent modal jazz scene. Despite this temporary setback, and some time spent playing guitar in Europe, he developed a pivotal collaborative relationship with multi-instrumentalist Lowell Davidson, whose unique sound explorations inspired him to further develop his own original approach to music making".[2] Morris formed his first trio in 1977.[1]

In 1981 Morris formed his own record company, Riti, for his own recordings.[2] He has led a group called Sweatshop, the sextet Racket Club, and quartets featuring, separately, Mat Maneri, Jamie Saft, and Rob Brown.[1]

In 1994 he became the first guitarist to lead his own session for Black Saint/Soul Note, with Symbolic Gesture.[2] He has continued to record extensively for many labels such as Knitting Factory, AUM Fidelity, and Hathut.[2] In addition to leading his own groups, he has recorded and performed with, among others: Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Joe Maneri, and Ivo Perelman.[1][2]

He has lectured and conducted workshops throughout the US and Europe.[2] He is a former member of the faculty of Tufts University Extension College and is on the faculty at New England Conservatory in the jazz and improvisation department.[3]

Influences and style[edit]

Morris cites as influences Cecil Taylor, Eric Dolphy, Leroy Jenkins, Thelonious Monk, Jimi Hendrix, and West African string music.[3] Morris has created his own approach to playing and composing.[2] "He usually incorporates a clean tone of the bebop lineage for his single-note-driven improvisations".[2] He also plays banjolele.[1]


As leader/co-leader[edit]

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)
2010 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)
2018 Geometry of Caves Relative Pitch Quartet with Tomeka Reid (cello), Kyoko Kitamura (voice), Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet, trumpet)
2019 Geometry of Distance Relative Pitch Quartet with Tomeka Reid (cello), Kyoko Kitamura (voice), Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet, trumpet)

As sideman[edit]

Release year Leader Title Label
1992 Rob Brown Youniverse Riti
2023 Jeff Platz Sun Spells Setola di Maiale
2005 Rob Brown Radiant Pools RogueArt
2009 Petr Cancura Fine Objects Not Two
2000 Whit Dickey Big Top Wobbly Rail
2002 Whit Dickey Prophet Moon Riti
2004 Whit Dickey Coalescence Clean Feed
2005 Whit Dickey In a Heartbeat Clean Feed
2006 Whit Dickey Sacred Ground Clean Feed
2008 Hamid Drake Blissful RogueArt
2009 Flow Trio Rejuvenation ESP-Disk
2011 Flow Trio Set Theory, Live at the Stone Ayler
2006 Dennis Gonzalez No Photograph Available Clean Feed
2009 Dennis Gonzalez Songs of Early Autumn No Business
2011 Ingebrigt Håker Flaten Now Is Clean Feed
2010 Stephen Haynes Parrhesia Engine
2015 Stephen Haynes Pomegranate New Atlantis
2008 Jim Hobbs The Story of Mankind Not Two
2011 Noah Kaplan Descendants hatOLOGY
2017 Noah Kaplan Cluster Swerve hatOLOGY
2000 Steve Lantner Voices Lowered Leo
2004 Steve Lantner Saying So Riti
2005 Steve Lantner Blue Yonder Skycap
2006 Steve Lantner Paradise Road Skycap
2007 Steve Lantner What You Can Throw hatOLOGY
2008 Steve Lantner Given – Live in Munster hatOLOGY
2004 Daniel Levin Don't Go it Alone Riti
2006 Daniel Levin Some Trees hatOLOGY
2007 Daniel Levin Blurry hatOLOGY
1995 Joe Maneri Three Men Walking ECM
1996 Joe Maneri Out Right Now hatOLOGY
2002 William Parker Eloping with the Sun Riti
2007 William Parker Double Sunrise Over Neptune AUM Fidelity
2016 William Parker Counteract This Turmoil Like Trees And Birds RogueArt
1997 Ivo Perelman Strings Leo
2011 Ivo Perelman The Hour of the Star Leo
2012 Ivo Perelman Family Ties Leo
2012 Ivo Perelman Living Jelly Leo
2013 Ivo Perelman One RareNoise
2015 Ivo Perelman Counterpoint Leo
2016 Ivo Perelman Blue Leo
2016 Ivo Perelman Breaking Point Leo
2016 Ivo Perelman The Art Of The Improv Trio Volume 5 Leo
2016 Ivo Perelman The Art Of The Improv Trio Volume 6 Leo
1997 Matthew Shipp Thesis hatOLOGY
2007 Matthew Shipp Piano Vortex Thirsty Ear
2008 Matthew Shipp Right Hemisphere RogueArt
2008 Matthew Shipp Cosmic Suite Not Two
2009 Matthew Shipp Harmonic Disorder Thirsty Ear
2010 Matthew Shipp Broken Partials Not Two
2009 David S. Ware Shakti AUM Fidelity


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


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Kennedy, Gary W. (2003), Morris, Joe(ii), Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.J645000
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i McCloy, Wilson. "Joe Morris: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Joe Morris at New England Conservatory

External links[edit]