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For the violinist and viola jazzman Mat Maneri, music is more about interaction than direct action. His music isn’t so much an act of contrivance as it is intercourse. His new quartet with William Parker at its creative center connects on many levels. First they refashion two standards; Duke Ellington’s “I Got It Bad” and the traditional “Hush Little Baby.” What has become Thirsty Ear and producer Matthew Shipp’s mode of working, their brand of creative music always has the familiar as a jumping off point. Even here as Maneri barely touches terra firma, the skeleton of these two accustomed tunes allow for a meeting of the minds between the experienced and (more importantly) the inexperienced creative music listener. This disc follows up last year’s So What (Hat Hut), a refresher on mostly Miles Davis’ classic songs.
Maneri, son of microtonal saxophonist Joe Maneri has forged his own career, separate from his cult-status father, yet their paths often meet in the recording studio and concert hall. Highlights include Joe’s Dahabenzapple (1996) and Acceptance (1996). Mat Maneri’s connections to jazz’s creative side emanate from his father, but his path tracks a 1960s freedom through the music of Matthew Shipp and William Parker as on Shipp’s Critical Mass one of the most spiritual free albums released since John Coltrane’s Ascension. Again here he connects with Parker, conversing stringed instrument to stringed instrument. Their interplay is one of feeling over logic, Parker’s bass a dynamo of energy on the improvised duo “It #2,” priming Maneri’s responses. Maneri for his part is full of ideas, but patiently develops each in an unhurried pace.
The wild card in this mix is pianist Craig Taborn. He gained the jazz world’s attention with James Carter’s Quartet, playing post-bop sideman to Carter’s honk and wail sideshow. While making five records with Carter, he used some free studio time to record the self-named Craig Taborn Trio (DIW 1994). The pianist is equally adept on the inside as out. He can recite Herbie Nichols or follow the freedom principles of Matthew Shipp. His addition to this recording is consistent with producer Shipp’s unstated mission to take listeners on a creative music journey and not lose one along the way.
Track List:Hush Little Baby; It #2; Blue Decco; The New Lord’s Prayer; It #3; Mute; Blue Sun; I Got It Bad.