Morris Code - Code a la Mode

Morris Code - Ohio /USA based live band - shows up with the release of their third album. At Morris Code's core is Peggy, a multi-talented musician, songwriter and dancer who leads the group with a charismatic, unmatched enthusiasm. She moves effortlessly from soulful vocalizations to explosive saxophone and flute solos. As bassist, Bob provides the band's backbone with a unique approach to each song's harmonic structure. Meanwhile, drummer Chris Ceja delivers a bottomless groove that keeps audiences on their feet. The band is adding guest musicians for recordings and concerts enhancing the sound and style of the basic trio. Aside intensive live playing in USA the band has recently appeared as succesfull act in the online music buzz as well and also has taken advantage of recent production techniques of internet based collaboration recording techniques of their members. This way a track with German guest pianist Mathias Claus - an experienced specialist in this field - finds his debut on "Code a la Mode", the piano tracks have been added via internet.

On first view the album continues the well known style of the band transferring it to a higher level in production, sound and variety. Don Safraneks percussions add a rich live character, Richard Parks does a great work with funky guitar lines, Aaron Lindsay adds professional keyboard colours and style-versatile soloings and Mathias Claus takes responsibility for a "Coreaish" virtuosly salsa and latin jazz piano touch. Undoubtly the guests have enhanced the spectrum of the band.

A great variety of styles is another progress coming up with the new release, besides the guest artist additions extended experiences as a live band might be the cause as the album shows versatile types of grooves and styles, interesting arrangements enriched with lots of unison parts and surprising breaks without loosing ground. In summary the albums variety might want you to listen one of the bands live shows. Not one of those albums running groove samples in several variations, its content is taken directly lively from stage experience.

The funky opener is Goosebumps on a mighty bass by Bob Morris, typical for his playing style. Richard Parks adds a light funk flavour underlining Peggy Morris' sax theme overdubbed by several horns of the multiinstrumentalist.

Mr. Tofoolio is a mix of funky and latin elements, Peggys sax theme as usual sounds very melodic based on her musical experience as singer and the Morris Code' message coming from a togetherness of heart, mind, and soul. A latin percussion break of drummer Chris Ceja and percussionist Don Safranek spends the appropriate latin flavour, Peggys sax solo shines light as a feather.

Following two jazzy introduction tracks Fughedaboudit now introduces Peggy as singer. Soulfull vocals and colorfull background harmonies by overdubbings communicate with a melodic flute theme. In her final flute part Peggy reminds us a bid to the playing techniques of rock virtuoso Ian Anderson from legendary band Jethro Tull. Her qualities as flute artist are rare in our days.

World Song is a highlight of the album showing up in a composing type used by Mike Manieri's Steps Ahead whose band had introduced computer sequences over steady groove beats in the 80's - Morris Code use a marimba for this purpose. Typical world ambience as the title tells peaked by a very spicy outside playing within Aron Lindseys keyboard solo using sounds of the legendary Moog synth flavour greatly answered by Peggys solo trades. Great track with a professional outfit.

A rich melodic movement on an ostinato bass groove presents the soft smooth jazz track Sweet Dreams. Peggy as usual enriches her warm and mellow saxophone colors with lots of vibrato. Sweetest dreams expressed by this track with smooth jazz hit qualities.

Inside Out is a typical Morris Code style with shifting harmonies over heavy funky bass ostinato creating the floor for intensive communicative solo trading. Brilliant players are guitarist Richard Parks and drummer Chris Ceja. The band surprises with a swing break in the final song parts.

Sneek'n starts with an introducing piano solo of the great German pianist Mathias ("Mat") Claus. He has a remarkable Salsa feeling comparable to the Salsa king Joseph Diamond. Very impressive Peggy Morris' elegant soprano sax play. Mr. Ackerbild is greeting. This is the perfect Latin flavor.

On Full Circle we listen to a professional smooth jazz outfit again, a carpet of soft electric piano introduces a flute ballad with surprising chord changes adding a fine flair to the pop/rock ballad groove type. Great double time synthesizer solo again by Aaron Linsey and Bob Morris ending the song with a melodic bass solo.

Crossroads is a funky vocal track with backing brass, Chris Ceja with straight grooves, cheeky sax solo phrases by Peggy.

Rocky's Karma: ...and Code has the chops, bopin introduction mixed with fusion breaks lead to swingin Hammond organs and a powerfull sax solo.

So Far Away is a beautifull melody underlined by freely piano lines and mysterious harmonies. We have been waiting for Peggy to show some of her scat vocals from her prior albums, the scat ending is way too short but we love it. Whatever she sings - lead, backing harmonies, scat, high notes - you will love it, an outstanding vocalist with a warm unique expression and lots of feeling plus a message of love and humanity.

Connected To The Hip Bone presents Acid Jazz sound mix - just to mention the great sound quality of the overall mixes by Bob Morris at this point as well - the drum tracks and bass solos are driven through frequency filters with heavy phasing effects provided by up to date mixing softwares that provide a futuristic perspective for Morris Codes prospective and forward looking coming developments.

The album could be considered smooth jazz with a copious touch of jazz by sophisticated harmonies and intensive jazz soloing, bound together by a very melodic approach of front lady Peggy Morris. Groove with Soul with a fantastic singer and multinstrumentalist in front and a versatile rhythm section with live qualities and the grooves definetly "in the pocket". This album is for smooth jazz connoisseurs with a jazz touch. See you at Morris Code live shows.

 

HBH

 

MoCode Records / Mo n Me Music 2002 ASCAP

Recorded at M & M Recording, Sheffield Lake, OH USA

Peggy Morris (saxes, vocals, flute) - Bob Morris (bass) - Chris Ceja (drums) - Aaron Lindsay (keyboards) - Mathias Claus (piano) - Richard Parks (guitars) - Don Safranek (percussions)