Down Beat (7/97, pp.56-57) - 5 stars (out of 5) - "This extraordinary boxed set...is a rare project....Morris...has long since moved on to inhabit a domain all his own....TESTAMENT...has to be heard, and heard again, to be believed."
JazzTimes (4/96, p.71) - "...the most ambitious documentation of an evolving, cutting-edge music since CECIL TAYLOR IN BERLIN '88....The players are the medium with which Morris action-paints sprawling, intense soundscapes....Butch Morris has made an important contribution to the cultural dialogue we call music..."
Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris is an innovator of conduction, a method which allows greater flexibility to the leader of a large improvising ensemble.
Personnel includes: Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris (conductor, cornet); Larry Ochs (saxophone); Bruce Ackley (soprano saxophone); Arthur Blythe (alto saxophone); J.A. Deane (trombone, electronics); Kazutoki Umezu (bass clarinet); Kaila Flexer (violin); Tristan Honsinger, Tom Cora (cello); Elizabeth Panzer, Zeena Parkins (harp); Myra Melford, Steve Beresford, Jon Jang (piano); Suleyman Erguner Ensemble (oud, ney); Hans Reichel (guitar); Hans Reichel (guitar, daxophone); Elliott Sharp (dobro); Peter Kowald, Maarten Altena, Fred Hopkins (bass); Han Bennink (drums); Ikue Mori (drum machine); Le Quan Ninh (percussion); Christian Marclay (scratching); Michihiro Sato (tugaru syamisen); Rova, The Maarten Altena Ensemble.
Includes liner notes by Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris.
The 10 discs in this limited edition set are also available separately.
This is a superlative collection of Morris' conducted improvisations. The general methods of conducting become a framework within which to create and direct by gesture. Meter and form, melody and harmony are all up for transformation in this setting. These pieces bring to mind the humorous and expected turns in pieces composed as cartoon soundtracks. Voices (that can add an Oriental flair) and odd instruments that contribute to the exaggerated and comedic side juxtapose in these pieces. Included are many East Asian instruments (nokan, ohtsuzumi, tugaru, etc.) in the three pieces recorded in Japan. A final, fourth piece is a European recording and includes both classical instruments (cello, piano, etc.) and several horns with drum and guitar. ~ Tom Schulte