Joe Morris, Modern American Music, guitar
WIRE magazine called Joe Morris “the preeminent guitarist in America” and “one of the most profound improvisers at work in the US,” and Down Beat magazine called him "the preeminent free music guitarist of his generation."
Originally from New Haven, Connecticut, Morris began playing in 1969 at the age of 14. He moved to Boston in 1975 and co-founded Boston Improvisers Group (BIG) in 1981. He was involved throughout his time in Boston in organizing concerts, festivals, and performance series at local venues that featured Boston based musicians as well as internationally known Americans and Europeans. In 1983 he started RITI records and released his first recording “Wraparound”.
Morris cites Cecil Taylor, Eric Dolphy, Leroy Jenkins, Thelonious Monk, Jimi Hendrix, Anthony Braxton, Jimmy Lyons, Ornette Coleman, and West African string music as major influences. He has performed with a wide range of notable improvising musicians including Anthony Braxton, David S. Ware, William Parker, Matthew Shipp. Barre Phillips, Barry Guy, Joe Maneri, Dewey Redman, Lawrence "Butch" Morris, Andrew Cyrille, Kidd Jordan, Fred Anderson, Hamid Drake, John Butcher, Han Bennink, Ken Vandermark, Fred Hopkins, and many others. He has also performed in large ensembles including William Parker’ Organic Ensemble, Pipeline 2000, Jim Hobbs Ghost Band and Brothers of Heliopolis, Alan Silva's Celestial Communications Orchestra, Simon Fell Orchestra and Leroy Jenkins Ensemble.
Morris currently leads various groups including Abstract Forest, a 20+ piece improvising ensemble, Go Go Mambo a 13 piece group that performs the music of Perez Prado, Joe Morris Ensemble, Quartet and Trio as well as performing solo, in duos and as a freelance guitarist and double bassist.
He is featured as leader, co-leader and sideman on over 75 recordings. He was the first guitarist to lead a session ("Symbolic Gesture" 1994) on the Soul Note/Black Saint Label. In addition to his own Riti Records, he has recorded for the labels AUM Fidelity, Thirsty Ear, Ayler, Knitting Factory, Okka Disc, OmniTone, Avant, Incus, Hat Hut, ECM, Leo, Homestead, NoMore, About Time, Clean Feed, Skycap, Rogue Art, Ayler, Victo, NotTwo and Cunieform.
Morris has performed workshops and master classes in a wide variety of settings throughout North America and Europe. He has taught at Tufts University Experimental College, Southern Connecticut State University, and New School University. He is currently on the faculty of the Longy School of Music and the New England Conservatory.