Reviews – MANERI ENSEMBLE   Going To Church (AUM024)

by Thom Jurek
Who knows why Manfred Eicher's ECM label isn't releasing this one by the Maneri Ensemble: Did he pass? If he did, does he still have ears? Following in the tradition of In Full Cry, this version of Joe and Mat Maneri's ensemble that also includes bassist Barre Phillips, Matthew Shipp on piano, drummer Randy Peterson, and Roy Campbell on trumpet is perhaps the most potent yet. A fully involved series of improvisations, Going to Church is a near-suite in three parts. Joe Maneri's conceptual microtonalism is at the root of all of these pieces, where notions of front lines and rhythm sections blur into one another as time itself is stretched beyond recognition. The addition of a second horn player and Shipp on piano is welcome in that with the increased chromatic range, the timbral extensions that are integral to the Maneris' music become almost infinite. Phillips is an intuitive bassist: he uses the harmonic reaches to engender the improvisations with a signature dynamic; he lays back and moves forcefully inside to shore up anything that may get lost. Shipp plays less percussively here, since the instrumentation allows for his gorgeous chord voicings to be heard as a part of the overall work as opposed to their driving force. The most surprising thing here is the role of textural analyst that Mat Maneri plays. He's shaping ambiences and colors, rounding and sharpening edges rather than forming them with his father, Shipp, or Campbell. But it works, as Joe uses his clarinets or saxophones in a manner that can only be described as chanting through the middle of these three pieces. As he winds ribbon-like around the foundations of space, color, texture, and lyrical invention, the title of the album becomes clear. This is music as mystery, divinely inspired and secularly executed. It invokes the sacred in that it doesn't deem to name it or conjure it, but makes it manifest with musical presence. Everything is based on the principle of equanimity here, which creates tension and offers such a myriad of harmonically inventive possibilities as to keep the listener fully engaged for the duration. As evidenced on Going to Church, this version of the Maneri Ensemble is the most exciting yet

by George Parsons
Maneri Ensemble Going To Church (Aum Fidelity) Joe Maneri on clarinet and sax, and his son Mat Maneri on viola, Roy Campbell plays trumpet, Matthew Shipp plays piano, Randy Peterson drums and Barre Phillips plays bass. On the warm afternoon of June 12th 2000, these guys got together to improvise in New York City; the results of that fortuitous interaction of players are the three extensive tracks presented here. The over half hour long Blood And Body, starts off cool floating and spacious, like disembodied chamber music describing the flights of drunken birds; at about the midway point is found folding layers of rhythmic fluttering, and intensely visual; almost pastoral sections into a swirling impressionistic mellow surrealistic watercolor of improvisational possibilities, while maintaining some gentle nearly understated tone of grace throughout. The eight and half minute Before The Sermon is a quiet contemplative conversation in dry brush strokes and ghostly whispering that blooms into moonflower tendrils of sound, as they reach out and interlace in the hallucinatory twilight. The nearly fourteen minute title track feels possibly the most supernaturally seamless, like an exercise in group mind while still clearly comprised of six very distinct and discernible individual voices, that shatter into fragmentary elements and come back together like water running the course of a river; from white water to deep calm peaceful pools.

by Glenn Astarita
With this release, Joe Maneri (woodwinds) and his equally well-known son, Mat (viola) enlist a modern jazz/free improvising super group. However, history dictates that raw talent is not a prerequisite for success. Although that notion serves as the antithesis to what is conveyed here, on this fine program consisting of open-ended dialogue and yearning lines. The artists’ interactions most assuredly emanate from the spirit within. The message is complex yet starkly personalized – where all semblances of rhythm are reduced to a fleeting experience, amid rumbling undercurrents and offsetting tonalities. They inject elements of pathos and humor into the mix, while also intermingling quiet, microtonal passages with solemn and at times emotive choruses. Trumpeter Roy Campbell frequently soars skyward, atop Mat Maneri’s sinuous lines and the other soloists’ diverting gestures. Overall, the Maneri Ensemble dispels any notions of accepted wisdom. Perhaps the music is analogous to higher-order theories of consciousness? You be the judge. Recommended…

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