Joseph Francis Michael Morris was born September 13, 1955 in New Haven, Connecticut. Starting on guitar he was primarily self-taught with only a few lessons, and played his first professional gig in 1969 . Jimi Hendrix and other guitarists of that period inspired him to learn to play the blues and John Coltrane’s Om inspired him to learn about jazz. From the age of 17 he worked to establish his guitar voice in the free jazz context, inspired by Cecil Taylor, Eric Dolphy, Leroy Jenkins and Thelonious Monk. After high school he performed in rock bands, rehearsed in jazz bands, and played improvised music until 1975, when he moved to Boston, Massachusetts.
By 1983 he formed his own record company, Riti, and recorded his first album, Wraparound. An early mentor and playing partner was pianist Lowell Davidson. Between 1989 and 1993 he performed and recorded with his electric trio Sweatshop and electric quartet Racket Club. 1994 saw Joe become the first guitarist to lead his own session in the twenty-year history of Black Saint/Soul Note with the trio recording Symbolic Gesture.
Morris has continued to record extensively for Leo, Knitting Factory, AUM Fidelity, Hathut, Clean Feed, ESP and RogueArt record labels. He has led his own groups and has recorded and performed with Matthew Shipp, William Parker, John Zorn, Joe Maneri, Rob Brown, Ivo Perelman, Ken Vandermark and DKV Trio, Jim Hobbs, Steve Lantner, Daniel Levin, Petr Cancura and David S. Ware among others.
He has lectured and conducted workshops throughout the United States and Europe, is a former member of the faculty of Tufts University Extension College and is currently on the faculty at New England Conservatory in the jazz and improvisation department. Guitarist, bassist, improviser and composer Joe Morris continues to perform and record.