Reviews that mention Mat Maneri

March 28, 2021

Junk Magic

Compass Confusion
Pyroclastic Records PR 12

Dan Weiss Starebaby

Natural Selection

Pi Recordings P 186

Having established himself as a valuable collaborator with everyone from Vijay Iyer to Evan Parker in the improvised community hasn’t stopped keyboardist Craig Taborn from indulging his love for more beats-oriented music. At the same time he hasn’t abandoned his synergetic ideals with both these high energy discs more concerned with group propulsion than gaudy soloing. Although each CD exists in a post-Fusion universe, the distances between them are major. MORE

July 19, 2019


Strings 3
Leo Records CD LR 859


Selon le vent

JACC Records 035 CD

Butt of many musicians’ jokes – especially among violinists – the viola’s mid-range string qualities make it a fine vehicle for improvisation. At the same time, as these viola-featuring trio-ish sessions prove, the mid-size string set can be used in different, sometimes contradictory fashions.

Pareidolia which concentrates on minimalist mesmerizing textures during the two selections on Selon le vent is called trio-ish because Uruguayan. bassist Alvaro Rosso, who also works with the likes of violinist Carlos “Zingaro”, joins the official trio on one track. The rest of the band features Portuguese violist João Camões, who divides his time between his native country and France and who has worked with “Zingaro” and Jean-Marc Foussat, and not surprisingly, two French-born improvisers:, Freiburg-based pianist Yves Arques and saxophonist/clarinetist Gabriel Lemaire. Working from that point where Free Jazz often extends into the sonic stratosphere Strings 3 is American violist Mat Maneri, known for his work with Matthew Ship among others, alongside Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and Brooklyn-based trumpeter Nate Wooley, who between themselves have worked with most of the major participants in exploratory music. MORE

May 27, 2019

Matthew Shipp-Mat Maneri

Conference of the Mat/ts
RogueArt ROG 0085


Strings 4

Leo Records CD LR 860

Matthew Shipp Trio


ESP Disk 5029

Now that he’s finally on the cusp of reaching elder statesman status, New York pianist Matthew Ship has become accepted as a band leader, soloist and valued musical associate. Over the years he’s developed numerous distinctive affiliations and these CDS show off his skills in duo, trio and quartet settings with no letdown in imagination. MORE

May 27, 2019


Strings 4
Leo Records CD LR 860

Matthew Shipp-Mat Maneri

Conference of the Mat/ts

RogueArt ROG 0085

Matthew Shipp Trio


ESP Disk 5029

Now that he’s finally on the cusp of reaching elder statesman status, New York pianist Matthew Ship has become accepted as a band leader, soloist and valued musical associate. Over the years he’s developed numerous distinctive affiliations and these CDS show off his skills in duo, trio and quartet settings with no letdown in imagination. MORE

March 8, 2019


Strings 1
Leo Records CD LR 850

Lisbon String Trio/Blaise Siwula

K’ampokol Che K’aay

Creative Sources CS 453 CD

Francesco Cusa & the Assassins

Black Poker

Clean Feed CF 504 CD


Debussy Impressions

Malasartes Mam 033

Ada Pitsou


SLAM 592

Something in the Air: Bending string section to Exploratory Jazz Ends

By Ken Waxman

Recording with a group of stringed instruments has always posed particular challenges for committed improvisers. Since the groupings of violin, viola, cello and the like are usually valued for their harmonic and melodic qualities, the challenge is to avoid a mawkish “& Strings” session, that buries innovation in schmaltz. Luckily these discs impress by using string players not as back-up or afterthought, but as an integral part of the creative process. MORE

October 11, 2017

Joëlle Léandre

A Woman’s Work…
NotTwo MW950-2

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp

The Art of Perelman-Shipp

Leo Records CD LR 794-799 and 786

Something in the Air: Music Appreciation as a Single Serving or Throughout Several Meals

By Ken Waxman

Marketing considerations aside, how best can a musician mark an important milestone or significant creativity? With recorded music the result is usually multiple discs. In honor of French bassist Joëlle Léandre’s recent 60th birthday for instance, there’s A Woman’s Work … (NotTwo MW950-2), an eight-disc boxed set. Almost six hours of music, the 42 tracks were recorded between 2006 and 2016 with one solo disc and the others intense interaction with such associates as trumpeter Jean-Luc Cappozzo, tenor saxophonist Evan Parker, violist Mat Maneri, guitarist Fred Frith, percussionist Zlatko Kaučič, pianists Agustí Fernández or Irène Schweizer and vocalists Lauren Newton or Maggie Nicols. With improvisers from six different countries working alongside, the bassist’s charm, humor, vigor and adaptability are highlighted. MORE

February 23, 2017

Judson Trio

An Air of Unreality
Booklet notes for RogueArt ROG00073

French double bassist Joëlle Léandre’s relationship with American musicians is analogous to that of French general the Marquis de Lafayette’s to the nascent Americans army during the American Revolution. After establishing her career in notated music in Paris, Léandre spent time at the Center for Creative and Performing Arts in Buffalo, NY familiarizing herself with the currents of improvised and aleatory music prevalent upstate and in nearby New York City. Just by chance Léandre arrived stateside in 1976, the 200th anniversary of the signing of the American Declaration of Independence. In a curious parallel her sojourn was the double bassist’s declaration of independence from the conventions of European so-called classical music. Like Lafayette, whose championing of the liberty and equality he experienced in the 13 Colonies provided some of the intellectual underpinnings for the French Revolution, the concepts Léandre internalized in the United States, mixed with many of her own ideas, subsequently helped define free music in Europe. MORE

July 1, 2016

Ches Smith

The Bell
ECM 2747

Reductionist and intervallic, the 10 tracks on percussionist Ches Smith’s CD tiptoe between what could be defined as aleatoric notated-oriented music and the freer sounds of Jazz-improv. Floating and dreamy, tremolo quivers from pianist Craig Taborn plus string judders from violist Mat Maneri often move so close to soporific hypnotics that it’s up to Smith’s percussion add-ons to widen the passages so they advance from rural-road like near-repose to superhighway mobility.

In fact until the third track, the sardonically titled “Isn't It Over”, this near-somnolence stew isn’t thickened enough to project lively as well as languid tones. Only when multi-toned percussion beats and piano key clipping introduce a cop show-like rhythmic emphasis that gradually inflates into variations of Eastern European-like dances, does the session appear to jell. From then on track such as “I'll See You on the Dark Side of the Earth” and “Wacken” more successfully outline Smith’s commitment to sonically negotiate the contrasts between light and darkness, tension and release. Taborn, who usually works in less refined circumstances with the likes of saxophonist Tim Berne, contributes rugged lower-pitched runs to the latter tune, which are given full expression when up against the contrapuntal asides of Maneri, an experienced hand at this sort of playing, having apprenticed in it with his father the late saxophonist Joe As if he was slicing through aluminum foil with a very sharp object, Maneri’s fiddle sweeps on the same tune encourage Smith to output a percussion strategy that clarifies the theme statement. Usually as self-effacing as a social democrat in a room full of rabid Tea Party supporters, Smith steps forward on “I'll See You on the Dark Side of the Earth” with paradiddles, ruffs and collection of cymbal clangs that bulk up the tune as it defines it. MORE

March 22, 2016

Guelph Jazz Festival

Guelph, Ontario
September 16-20, 2015

By Ken Waxman

Story telling of the verbal and instrumental variety was an important feature of this year’s Guelph Jazz Festival. Trying out new venues such as Heritage Hall (HH), Guelph’s first black church; and the soft-seated Guelph Little Theatre (GLT), the festival added a feeling of intimacy to its innovative programming.

Front and centre with tales, tall and otherwise were two Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM) members, multi-reedist Douglas Ewart and alto saxophonist Matana Roberts. Confirming the old adage that actions can speak louder than words were musicians as cerebrally intricate as Evan Parker’s soprano saxophone forays or as raucous as guitarist Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog trio. MORE

March 22, 2016

Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Tanya Kalmanovitch

Villa Lobos Suite
Leo Records CD LR 742.

By Ken Waxman

Anyone expecting a performance of Heitor Villa-Lobos’ themes, or even a jazz-like interpretation of the 20th century Brazilian composer’s work, should be flustered. Instead these 10 tracks are instances of Proustian memory extensions: improvisations related to the emotions perceived by Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman when he first experienced Villa-Lobos’ sounds two decades ago. Further indication of its singularity the music is produced by the saxophone paired with two violas played by Mat Maneri and Tanya Kalmanovitch. Alberta-born, Brooklyn-based Kalmanovitch, who teaches at Mannes College, has been in a string duo with Maneri for a decade. Her background is notated and ethnic music helps shape the sounds, informed by the others expertise in microtonality and free jazz. MORE

March 7, 2016

Jen Shyu & Jade Tongue

Sounds and Cries of the World
Pi Recordings Pi 61

By Ken Waxman

One of the musicians of Asian heritage who are interpolating currents from eastern cultures into American-based improvised music, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu approaches the task earnestly, rejecting surface exoticism. Like a jeweler who sources the most appealing stones for an exquisite necklace no matter their origin, Shyu places ethnic-tinged sounds within unique settings. She may sing in Javanese, Korean, Tetrum (from East Timor) and Indonesian plus English, but no attempt is made to reproduce traditional frameworks. Besides piano, she accompanies herself on gat kimr two-string Taiwanese lute; gayageum, 12-string Korean zither, ggwaenggwar, Korean gong; and kenmark, a Javanese idiophone. But these instruments are integrated with so-called western tones from Mat Maneri’s viola, Ambrose Akinmusire’s trumpet, Thomas Morgan’s bass and Dan Weiss’ drums. MORE

March 18, 2015

Albrecht Maurer/Lucian Ban/Mat Maneri

Nemu Records Nemu 015

By Ken Waxman

German violinist Albrecht Maurer, Romanian pianist Lucian Ban and American violist Mat Maneri have created a CD of shadowy subtlety that redefines the idea of a string trio. The three unearth a distinguishing blend, which takes as much from Eastern European memories, early music and microtonal inferences as jazz or notated music. Ban, now New York-based, and Maneri have explored similar concepts on previous

CDs but Fantasm’s sound experiments are given addedresonance from Cologne-based Maurer, a reformed fusion musician. MORE

July 11, 2014

Max Johnson

The Prisoner
NoBusiness Records NBCD 66

By Ken Waxman

Literally program music since this suite was inspired by the TV program The Prisoner starring Patrick McGoohan; this CD has a lot more going for it than an appeal to ‘60s cult TV fans. Although song titles refer to characters in the series about a former secret agent held prisoner in a mysterious village, the drama and emotion expressed by composer/bassist Max Johnson plus saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, violist Mat Maneri and drummer Tomas Fujiwara relates to musical not visual challenges. Thus there’s no reason to know that McGoohan’s character was called No. 6, or his nemesis No. 2, to appreciate the interpretations. MORE

December 3, 2013

Artist Feature:

Ivo Perelman
By Ken Waxman

“When [Brazilian director] Gustavo Galvão first asked me to do the soundtrack for his film I thought he was crazy,” confesses tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman, 52. “I said I don’t do that kind of thing and play to cues. I only play my music the way I do.” Yet Galvão, who had made a special trip to New York precisely to get the São Paulo-born saxophonist to create music for his film finally agreed to let Perelman do it his own way with musician of his own choice. Before heading into the studio with violist Matt Maneri and pianist Matthew Ship, Perelman explained the film concept to them, knowing that different moods would emerge as they recorded their improvisations. Titled after the fact, and sequenced into eight tracks, the improvisations now make up the music for the director’s first international feature A Violent Dose of Anything. (Uma Dose Violenta de Qualquer Coisa in Portuguese). Not only is the music preserved on a CD of the same title, but it recently won an award as best original soundtrack at a prestigious Brazilian film festival. Would he do other movie projects? “Introduce me to more people like Gustavo then I’ll do more film music,” jokes Perelman. MORE

May 13, 2013

Kris Davis

Capricorn Climber
Clean Feed CF 266 CD

Creating a cohesive program that moves from experimentation to straight-ahead swing and lush inventions – often on the same track – pianist Kris Davis outlines a series of moods on this program of her own compositions. Calgary-born Davis has made a reputation for herself as an arranger as well as a soloist and each of her compositions displays her sidefolk – some of New York’s most accomplished players – to their collective best advantage.

Take for instance Pass the Magic Hat, which starts off as a swirling and spiraling exposition for her piano plus the bass of Trevor Dunn and the drums of Tom Rainey, but soon evolves to a contrapuntal duel between her metronomic comping and Ingrid Laubrock’s pulsating tenor saxophone. A spikier secondary theme developed by violist Mat Maneri arrives, eventually to be harmonized with piano and reed slurs. On the other hand, Bottom of the Well is a cohesive recital-styled track with low-pitched piano clunks underscoring the chromatic string sets. Before a legato finale, Dunn vibrates a solo in the cello-range while the violist harshly rubs his strings. With Davis’ narrative literally more low-key and impressionistic, Pi is Irrational balances Maneri’s tremolo stridency with Rainey’s rugged ruffs and taps, until Laubrock’s gentling arpeggios presage a brief, rhythmically sophisticated bass solo. MORE

September 16, 2012

Stone Quartet

Live at the Vision Festival
Ayler Records aylCD 124

MMM Quartet

Live at the Metz Arsenal

Leo Records CD LR 631

Two high-quality CDs, recorded in a live setting with French bassist Joëlle Léandre as the unifying factor, are superficially similar in intent and personnel. Yet the multiple strategies each quartet brings to the extended selections demonstrate how unique sounds can result even in the most comfortable of surroundings.

Live at the Vision Festival captures the triumphant performance of what might be called Léandre’s New York quartet, filled out by trumpeter/flutist Roy Campbell, pianist Marilyn Crispell and violist Mat Maneri. Although recorded in France, Live at the Metz Arsenal, joins the bassist with two colleagues who teach at California’s Mills College – Alvin Curran on electronics and piano, best known for his notated work and membership in the MEV ensemble, and guitarist Fred Frith, whose entry into improv came through his Art-Rock bands like Henry Cow. Although MMM could stand for “MillsMusicMafia”, some Continental spice joins the West Coast greenery in the presence of Swiss soprano and tenor saxophonist Urs Leimgruber, who has been in other bands with Léandre, including Quartet Noir which also included Crispell. MORE

October 10, 2011

Arrigo Cappelletti/Andrea Massaria/Nicola Stranieri/Mat Maneri

Leo Records CD LR 597

By Ken Waxman

Persuasively grafting his own style onto the already existing interplay among an Italian trio`s members, New York violist Mat Maneri achieves a gratifying metamorphosis. Reflecting the theories of veteran pianist/essayist and professor of jazz at the Music Conservatory of Venice, Arrigo Cappelletti, who composed or co-wrote five of the nine tracks, the sound on this CD aims to, in his words “create a tension between tempered and non-tempered sound, between a nice phrase and a ‘dirty’ phrase”. MORE

June 15, 2011

Gerald Cleaver Uncle June

Be It As I See It
Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT-375

Program music that avoids the expected, drummer Gerald Cleaver’s Be It As I See It is a finely formed meditation that makes purely musical points. Although based on the Great Migration of American Blacks from the South to the North from the 1920s onwards, Detroit-born, New York-based Cleaver, whose immediate family was involved in the journey, has created a magisterial chamber work which carefully avoids clichés. There are no allusions to south-of-the Mason-Dixon agrarian nostalgia or attempts to musically recreate the gritty urban north. MORE

March 8, 2010

Guelph Jazz Festival

Guelph, Ontario
September 9 - 13, 2009

Always populist, the annual Guelph Jazz Festival extended its support of outdoor improvisation plus interaction between Third and First World musicians in its 16th edition, without lessening its commitment to Free Music. Much of the outstanding music-making came from the later however, with American pianist Marilyn Crispell one standout.

Featured in American, European and Canadian group settings, Crispell’s playing was powerful and outer-directed at the River Run Centre concert hall, in a trio with two AACM stalwarts, seemingly ageless tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson and colorful percussionist Hamid Drake, whose rhythmic conception is comfortable in any context. Anderson often quivered or vibrated reflective lines that were paralleled with linear arpeggios or kinetic pedal-pushed frequencies by Crispell. Meantime Drake’s palm or stick movement conveyed all the rhythm. Climax was a version of Muñoz’s “Fatherhood”, built on ecclesiastical chording from the pianist, ruffs and rebounds from Drake and gospel-like preaching from Anderson. MORE

November 20, 2008

The Stone Quartet

DMG @ The Stone - Vol 1.

Staggeringly producing enough tonal colors and timbral delineations to suggest a much larger group, the Stone Quartet has created an improvisational opus with this CD – a faithful reproduction of a single set the ensemble played in the New York performance space.

This comprehensive exhibit of remarkable polyphony should come as no surprise, since the band consists of four innovators of in-the-moment music-making: Americans trumpeter Roy Campbell violist Mat Maneri and pianist Marilyn Crispell, plus French bassist Joëlle Léandre. Shorter, intuitive Maneri-Léandre and Campbell-Crispell duets are sandwich between substantial, extended quartet interactions that define the group’s strengths. MORE

March 20, 2006

François Carrier

Leo LR 451/452

Convergence in its proper sense, Happening is offhandedly exotic, since Montreal saxophonist François Carrier places no limits on the musicians expressing their specialties – nor emphasizes the differences for effect. Thus at various junctures during the seven tracks on this fine two-CD set, the soprano and alto saxophonist’s regular trio of bassist Pierre Côté and drummer Michel Lambert is spelled by razor-sharp microtonal asides from violist American Mat Maneri or exotic Indian-inflected tones from the South Asian instruments played by Uwe Neumann, a German-born, Montreal resident. MORE

June 20, 2005

Heinz Geisser/Guerino Mazzola Quartet

Black Saint

Heinz Geisser/Guerino Mazzola

By Ken Waxman
June 20, 2005

Switzerland has never had an overabundance of jazz musicians, let alone outright Free Jazz players. Also, because of the cantons proximity to larger countries nearby and similarity in names, those not familiar with individual musicians might think certain Swiss players are respectively German, French or Italian.

So how do you account for an iconoclast like pianist Guerino Mazzola? Now 57, he’s combined an academic career – having published 13 books and over 90 papers in the fields of math, topology, brain-research and computer-music – with uncompromising Free playing. Often unfairly compared with Cecil Taylor – as it seems are all pianists more advanced than beboppers – his touch is nimbler and his concepts often more cerebral than the American. With references to Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner in his improvising, Mazzola, who once described Irène Schweizer, his country’s best-known avant-jazz pianist as “a nice bebop player”, has steadfastly followed his own path since 1980. MORE

October 11, 2004


For Flowers
Leo CD LR 394

Finding French bassist Joëlle Léandre involved in an ad-hoc improvising situation with unexpected musical partners is so common as to be customary. She’s someone equally at home dissecting notated pieces by John Cage with Japanese musician as playing Free Music with a mixture of Europeans and Americans. What is remarkable is her partners on this eight-track CD recorded at a jazz festival.

While French drummer Christophe Marguet is a new acquaintance, she regularly plays with other percussionists. However, except for a couple of instances, electro-acoustic sounds haven’t been a part of her discography. Which makes so noticeable the presence of Joel Ryan on computer-based electronics, who is usually part of reedist Evan Parker’s Electro-Acoustic Ensemble. Even more conspicuous is American violinist Mat Maneri. Born into improv -- his father is microtonal reedist Joe -- Maneri usually sticks to the ecstatic side of jazz, gigging with the likes of pianist Mathew Shipp and bassist William Parker, while the bassist’s usual fiddle sidekick is Lisbon's Carlos Zingaro. MORE

August 23, 2004


Algonquin: Great Performances from the Library of Congress, Vol. 18
Bridge 9146

Presumably to be known from now on as Cecil Taylor’s “classical” CD, ALGONQUIN is a live recording of the Library of Congress recital that premiered the pianist’s McKim Fund commissioned duet for violin and piano.

Employing the prodigiously skilled violinist Mat Maneri as his partner, Taylor --who had never previously played with the fiddler -- molded his individualistic approach to the setting to create something that’s both memorable and unique in his massive discography. This four-track recital from Washington, D.C. isn’t a clichéd “gentle side of CT” anomaly, but proof one again that improvised music’s most inventive keyboardist can amaze in nearly any setting. MORE

May 17, 2004


Hopscotch 21

Junk Magic
Thirsty Ear THI 57144.2

Ever since he first appeared on disc as part of his father, reedist Joe Maneri’s, Boston-based microtonal trio, violist Matt Maneri has been turning heads with his playing. Versatile enough to move effortlessly from the harshest excesses of loud, so-called ecstatic jazz to the supplest examples of understated chamber improv, he’s created a legitimate role for the bloated fiddle in exploratory situations. MORE

June 16, 2003


Live from the Vision Festival
Thirsty Ear THI 57131.2

The next best thing to being there, this combination CD and DVD package offers a distillation of some of the outstanding performances from last year’s Vision Festival in New York’s Lower East Side. Lacking the name recognition of Newport, Montreux, or any other capitalist entity-associated international star festival, in its less than 10 year existence, Vision has still promulgated a unique artistic vision.

Built around the vision of bassist William Parker, it’s a place where pioneering avant gardists from the 1960s mix it up with younger players who are carrying on experimental ideals. It’s cross-cultural, national and international as well, with the musicians showcased on this session arriving from Germany, Korea, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Valencia, Calif., New Orleans… and Brooklyn, MORE

January 22, 2003


Going To Church
AUM Fidelity AUM 024

Thirsty Ear THI 57122.2

Substantial slices of Maneri music, these two new CDs prove that while violist Mat Manner has internalized the quirky cogitation and execution of his father, reedist Joe Maneri, he’s not adverse to testing out some ideas of his own in different contexts.

Father-son improvisers are nothing new on the jazz scene and have ranged from boogie-woogie pianist Albert Ammons and his funky tenor saxophonist son Gene Ammons to mainstream pianist Ellis Marsalis and his progeny. But few offspring are as inculcated in his father’s music, as Mat -- born in 1969 -- who began playing music with his father when he was only seven. It’s hardly necessary to point out that Joe -- born in 1927 -- was no mainstream Marsalis. A jobbing musician for years with an interest in ethnic, microtonal and 12-tone composition as well as jazz improvisation, his talent finally got him a gig teaching theory and composition at Boston’s New England Conservatory in 1970. But his single-mindedness left him unrecorded until his belated emergence in the mid-1990s. MORE

February 22, 2002


The River of Sounds
Boxholder BXH 024

Unconvincingly described as an opera by pianist Borah Bergman, this almost 42-minute CD does arrive with emblematic track titles related to a symbolic tale printed in the booklet notes. But with no libretto, no vocals and, in fact, no written music at all, don’t look for its performance at any opera house in the near future.

What this session is in reality, however, is a first time meeting of two American and one German improviser that proves how exceptional free music can be created in such circumstances. It’s also a cross-generational concordant as well, since Brooklyn-born Bergman and Dresden-born trombonist Konrad “Conny” Bauer are several decades older than the third participant, Boston-born and Brooklyn-based electric six-string violinist Mat Maneri. Maneri, in fact, is young enough to literally be the son of either of the other musicians, if, of course, he wasn’t already the scion of multi-reedist Joe Maneri, another iconoclastic free musician, in whose band he still often plays. MORE

September 11, 2000


Blue Decco
Thirsty Ear TH 57092.2

Mat Maneri may be the savior of jazz violin. If not that, he's definitely it's future.

Long the music's stepchild, with 200 drummers or saxophonists for every Stuff Smith or Joe Venuti, jazz violin banged into the fusion brick wall about 30 years ago when nearly every fiddler tried to emulate Jean Luc Ponty's guitar-god-like string playing. For the past quarter century, though, even Ponty has produced little more than tired retreads of his earlier work.

At the same time the few musicians who found a role for violin in improv musics, were rapidly aging. Except for the work of the equally talented, and slightly older, Mark Feldman, it appeared that jazz violin evolution is linked to the fingers and strings of Maneri.