The first recording on Joe Morris’s own label, Riti Records, is a CD called Age of Everything. This is a trio recording featuring Joe Morris on guitar, Timo Shanko on string bass and Luther Gray on drums.
One benefit that I had before hearing this recording was that I experienced the trio’s performance of the four pieces at the Meetinghouse in Amherst, Ma. in the fall of this last year. Hearing the trio perform live was advantageous in coalescing my sense of the music.
Morris’s Gibson Les Paul guitar (the only reason I know this is that my friend who sat next to me at the performance rattled this off when I inquired if he knew what kind of guitar Morris was playing, otherwise I would not have even mentioned it) opens the recording with a mid-range lustrous phrase of notes. This phrase sets the pace and the standard of play for all the instruments in the remainder of the recording. Even though the guitar sometimes moves at half the tempo of the bass and drums, the elongation of the notes implies the same fast pace at which the music started. More often than not, the strings of the guitar are so clearly and quickly manipulated that Morris’s fingers seem never to leave where the neck and the body of the guitar meet. This fact nailed the core of the music.
The bass and the drums follow suit in tone, timbre, tempo, and touch in their solo launches, which are extremely generous in length and frequency. Both Gray and Shanko persist within the parameters of the intensity, stringency and forward motion set forth by Morris. Their solos are extremely satisfying and strong. Their interactions with Morris support and embellish Morris’s playing rather than distract.
As a whole, the music can almost fit the description of agitated but on second thought the better description would be totally groovy. And so groovy, that a dedicated center is established. The center is the core of the music. The center is as rock-solid as the photograph of the boulder on the front of the album cover, the boulder that rests on a ledge in front of a backdrop of bare tree branches barely visible through a mist. As a whole, the music poetically substantiates the title of the CD. The truth is that in a perfect world, as with time, and therefore, with age, there are no divisions between one entity, one sound, one electrical charge and the next. Age of Everything is everything as is. And, as is, is the irrevocable flow of the music.