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Joe Morris, Tomeka Reid, Dave Rempis, and Jim Baker; Joe Morris & Ken Vandermark 

When: Thu., Aug. 8, 9 p.m. 2013
On his previous visit to Chicago, for last year’s Umbrella Music Festival, singular guitar improviser Joe Morris gave a rare solo performance, but on this trip he plays three shows with different combinations of locals. Few musicians can match Morris when it comes to deftly and meaningfully adapting their aesthetics and personas to various settings without losing touch with their core identities. Morris is a strong listener who thrives in extended improvisations where he can weave his sound into those of his collaborators, and his distinctively tangled single-string lines are as original as anything produced on the jazz guitar in decades. On Ambrosia (Riti), a fully improvised 2011 duo album with Spanish pianist Agusti Fernandez, both musicians pour out dense torrents of notes, sometimes modulating their sound with unconventional techniques. On “Ambrosia 2,” for example, Fernandez mucks around inside the piano to produce brittle, dissonant clangs, while Morris uses what sounds like a slide on an acoustic to generate metallic scrapes, squeaks, and swoops that are wondefully consonant with his partner’s contributions. On Altitude (Aum Fidelity), a sublime 2012 trio release with bassist William Parker and drummer Gerald Cleaver, Morris favors the upper register of an electric guitar, his phrases so tightly wound that they sometimes feel knotted, but close listening reveals a patient logic—undulating arcs of sound breathe and open up into ever-morphing constellations. Tonight he’ll play a duet with Ken Vandermark and a quartet set with cellist Tomeka Reid, saxophonist Dave Rempis, and keyboardist Jim Baker. On Wed 8/7 at Hideout, Morris plays a solo set, followed by a trio performance with bassist Harrison Bankhead and drummer Michael Zerang. He concludes his Chicago visit on Sat 8/10 with a trio set at Constellation with bassist Joshua Abrams and bass clarinetist Jason Stein. —Peter Margasak

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