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Natural History: Fur

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Through more than two decades of tireless activity, Joe Morris has become free jazz’s preeminent guitarist. In 2000 he added acoustic bass to his arsenal, and he plays it exclusively in Natural History, his trio with saxophonist Joe Sexton and drummer Croix Galipault–both 30 years younger than Morris. Any notions that Morris chose his partners out of fear that more seasoned collaborators would expose his own bass inexperience are quickly dispelled. Sexton and Galipault are highly skilled players, and Morris’ bass prowess is nearly equal to his guitar expertise.

Fully improvised, Fur has a spacious air born not from timidity but deft precision; even the quietest portions are crammed with ideas. Sexton especially impresses, as his Ayleresque growling on “Fragment Fuel” becomes a loping jaunt on “Fur,” then a soulful skip on “Flow Field.” Galipault’s cymbal-heavy work is harder to notice yet equally adept. Morris weaves fluidly through his partners’ sounds, even locking horns with Galipault on the swinging “Personality Motor.” When the trio closes with the textural “Things of That Nature,” the right to delve into abstraction has been fully earned, making Fur a stylistic circle forged by a unified triangle of musicians.