Mat Maneri Quartet
Mat Maneri, son of saxophonist Joe, is a composer and violin/viola player. Under his own name he’s released some 30 albums in around about as many years and he’s been a sideman for a great range of avant-garde jazzers including several records with his old man and, I guess most famously, working with Cecil Taylor, Craig Taborn and Marilyn Crispell.
I first heard his work with David S. Ware, Matthew Shipp and Joe Morris, in particular it was Morris’ astonishing late-90s free-jazz masterpiece, A Cloud of Black Birds that floored me.
I’ve been a fan of Maneri’s moody nocturnes since then.
Here, leading his own quartet (Lucian Ban on piano, Randy Peterson on drums, John Hébert on bass) Maneri of course sets the tone, with the lion’s share of the compositions and with his instrument providing many of the main melodies as well as a lot of the textural work.
It’s languid and crepuscular for the most part – many of the pieces here feeling improvised, at least in part, as soft brushes on drums set up the space for the other three instruments to take their turns at the top of the conversation. Hébert’s bass is deep and mostly plays its rhythmic role but on occasion it stabs out in the direction of the melody, chasing after it as much as helping to frame it.
And Ban’s piano – quite Shipp-like in the way it duels with Maneri – is the real other main voice here.
These pieces waft and drift and take their time to fold towards any particular place. It might not be for everyone which is arguably what I like most about it.
You could imagine this soundtracking a moody thriller, something with intrigue – a cat and mouse game, a stalker-slasher flick even. But you’re best to just sit up with it alone at night and let it fill the room, the soundtrack to your reading or web-browsing or your anxiety-fuelled contemplation of just what the fuck this world is right now and how the hell we arrived at it and in it and whatever else might happen to further offset normality. Pleasant Dreams.
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