Joe Morris Quartet/Joe Morris + Mat Maneri

Joe Morris Quartet

At the Old Office

Knitting Factory

Guitarist Joe Morris and viola player Mat Maneri complement each other well. Morris plays with no distortion or sustain and threads long strings of guitar notes over Maneri’s viola strokes. These two releases show these fine musicians in varied contexts, which allow them to stretch their technique in different directions.

At the Old Office is a cool, and languid session with Joe Morris, Mat Maneri, Chris Lightcap (bass), and Gerald Cleaver (drums). The quartet can generate some heat when the members are soloing, but the atmosphere is mostly relaxed. The album is split between two composed pieces and two that are improvised. The two composed tracks are lovely, “Don’t Say too Much” has a lovely understated groove to it, while “Coil” ups the pace and is comprised of loping solos by Morris, and slightly more jagged solos by Maneri. The improvised pieces are spacious, leaving plenty of room to either fill the room with notes, or to meander. All of the tracks are fairly lengthy, with the shortest being ten minutes and the rest upwards of 20. The session is pleasant, but, on the whole, fairly unremarkable.

[soul search] focuses on Maneri’s and Morris’ ability to play alone, without a percussion or rhythmic net to fall back on. The record gets pretty pointillistic at times, with both musicians sawing away in the high registers. Maneri indulges in a few extended squonks, but stays in the melodic realm for the most part. While interesting, the record, as the prior, fails to be really interesting, because it’s all out there. You can listen again, but there’s not too much you’re going to find the next time around. The two are on the exact same wavelength, and so, it sounds more like a solo record by a guy with four hands than a duo.

Knitting Factory Records, 74 Leonard St., New York City, NY 10013, http://www.knittingfactory.com; AumFidelity, P.O. Box 170147, Brooklyn, NY 11217, http://www.aumfidelity.com

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