Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Joe Morris and Nate Wooley's "Tooth and Nail"

Connecticut Yankee Joe Morris possesses the most intriguing guitar approach this side of Elliott Sharp. Like Sharp, Morris specializes in angular, oblique melodies with less blues and grit in 'em than your average Les Paul user, his playing more redolent of Derek Bailey or Keith Rowe than John McLaughlin or Sonny Sharrock. His bands employing "traditional" instrumentation (e.g., bass and drums with or without another soloist) might remind you of a guitar-led Cecil Taylor Unit (extreme technical virtuosity and improvisational intensity) or one of those "shred" videos on Youtube (only the most tenuous connection to conventional melody), depending on your frame of reference.

On Tooth and Nail, a duet with 30something avant-trumpet eminence Nate Wooley (just released on Portuguese little-label-that-could Clean Feed), the rhythmless duo format affords both men a quieter space in which to extemporize, free from the constraints of "lead/supporting" expectations. The two musicans interweave and overlap colors and textures as well as melodies. At times, Morris plays highly percussively and employs "extended techniques" such as string scraping and bowing (he has a parallel career as a standup bassist), while Wooley is also adept at exploring all of his horn's sonic possibilities. A shiny silver disc to make you cogitate.


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