Dave_stryker-big_room_span3 Joe_morris-antennae_span3
May 1998

Dave Stryker Quartet
Big Room
SteepleChase
Joe Morris Trio
Antennae
AUM Fidelity

Here are a couple of excellent guitarists, markedly different in approach but both well worth hearing. The title tracks opens Stryker's record with a loping feel reminiscent of Ornette, and there are other similarities that may be influences or just show the extent to which Coleman's approach has been assimilated (about time). I'm referring to these players' willingness on some tracks to play along in 4/4 with no set progression, without abandoning harmonic reference points but using them as long as they feel like it. People seem to forget how much of Ornette is really pretty tame in this regard. A further affinity is suggested by the fact that Stryker often eschews comping, for a two-horns-two-rhythm kind of feel, Rich Perry sharing front line duties and a very compatible soloing style on tenor. Stryker uses obvious back-up devices like arpeggiated patterns that jazz players usually avoid, and writes pieces that are more than just lines. His ability to change his solo approach to the material is impressive. Billy Hart is great on this record, and Ed Howard's big bass sound is a big plus. Warm, swinging, intelligent music.

Henry Kaiser warned me that Joe Morris was a bad boy a while back, so I was somewhat prepared for Antennae, which is just as well because this is not music that tries to be present itself politely. I thought the title was a reference to Ezra Pound's definition of artists as being the antennae of society, but Morris' notes make it clear that his primary inspiration was one Lowell Davidson. Actually, the philosophical part of it all doesn't communicate that well but the music certainly does.

Morris has an extremely advanced and completely individualistic technique with which he spins out intensely abstract lines-the fact that he plays notes and not sounds a la Derek Bailey or Eugene Chadbourne might make him seem relatively "accessible" but this is hard-edged, brittle music that will chafe until you get on its wavelength. There is an almost acetic purity here, and bassist Nate McBride and drummer Jerome Deupree understand and contribute perfectly.

Originally published in May 1998
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