Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Meet the Master of Microtonal Music...R.I.P....

I first heard Joe Maneri at the Montreal Jazz Festival back in the early eighties. He and his son, Mat, were the opening act for Paul Bley. I'd never heard of him before then and, truth be told, I was not prepared for what I heard. I was completely baffled by what I heard then. In fact, I thought it was some kind of weird joke (which goes a long way to placing me within the continuum of my listening experience at that point in time). It wasn't till years later that I realized what a singularly rare treat I'd experienced.

The album we have today is my tribute to the late improvisor (he died August 24, 2009). The recording is on the Cochlea Productions label. It was recorded January 11, 1989 in Brookline, Mass. Here's a great AMG review by Thom Jurek:

"Recorded in 1989, this disc features Joe Maneri on tenor, clarinet, and voice; his son Mat on electric violin; and drummer/percussionist Masashi Harada. Given that Joe and Mat Maneri have been regular fixtures on the scene since the late '90s, and that Joe had been in retirement from recording or performing for over 30 years, this is one of, if not the, earliest dates of his return to public performance. That said, this couldn't be a more "out" date. Maneri's deep study of individual and collective improvisation that he taught at the New England Conservatory of Music is present here, and pointed in the direction of microtonal exploration. Here, with the use of the many sonorities of the violin, Joe Maneri utilizes his reeds to do away with all notions of what atonal improvisation is, because — in his microtonal universe — everything is tonal. It may not be consonant, but it all fits. The pace on all nine pieces here is very slow and pronounced, and the feeling is immediate despite the restraint. Recorded in only two and a half hours, the excitement level is high, the emotional palette is engaged thoroughly. As the instruments begin to wind around one another with purpose and wonder, elements of color, texture, and above all timbre begin to reveal themselves as individual elements in this tonally integrative process of improvisation. There are new ways of speaking, since this language didn't exist before the band walked in the room; each new language has its difficulties, and here it is hesitancy — making sure that everyone has a proper turn to speak. Toward the end of the set, when they realize that the sky's the limit, it all goes out the window and speech becomes abundant to the point of song. Make no mistake, this is a difficult record — one of uncompromising music. Yet it is also a rewarding one that is full of humor, passion, and joy. "

The playlist is made up of nine pieces - all simply numbered sequentially, except the third piece which is the title of the album.


1 comment:

  1. Great blog you have here. And good to see Joe Maneri remembered. He's a recent discovery for me - and then he goes and dies!