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Sarah Manning: Dandelion Clock

Woodrow Wilkins By

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It may take years of listening before a music enthusiast can identify the sound of a musician, distinct and separate from others who play the same instrument. David Sanborn, Bob Mintzer and Jay Beckenstein are just a few examples of saxophonists whose voices are easily distinguished. Sarah Manning hopes to join their ranks.

Manning began playing jazz during junior high school, where her dissonant arrangements caught the attention of the school's founder, Jackie McLean. She later entered the jazz studies program at William Paterson College under the direction of Rufus Reid. After more studies and a move to the West Coast, Manning embarked on a recording career.

"Marble" is one of seven Manning originals. It's an easygoing piece that starts off softly, except for the alto's wail. The mood remains light, despite the energy pickup provided by Art Hirahara's piano solo. When Manning rejoins the soundscape, she takes the quartet on a free0spirited country drive—not caring where they go but thoroughly enjoying the act of getting there.

Manning awakens slowly to open "I Tell Time by the Dandelion Clock." After spending a few minutes freshening up, the piano leads the morning workout, assisted by bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Kyle Struve. As the alto enters the stretch run, the other instruments kick into high gear—all while the tick-tock of Struve's rim shots continues.

It may take several years of listening to be able to say, "Yes, that's Sarah Manning." However, just one time through Dandelion Clock is enough to know she doesn't sound like anyone else. Developing a voice isn't something that every musician does, and not all who do so are distinctive enough. But this collection shows that Manning is clearly on her way.

Track Listing: The Peacocks; Marble; Habersham Street; I Tell Time By the Dandelion Clock; Crossing, Waiting; The Owls (Are on the March); Through the Keyhole; Phoenix Song; The Windmills of Your Mind.

Personnel: Sarah Manning: alto saxophone; Art Hirahara: piano; Linda Oh: bass; Kyle Struve: drums.

Title: Dandelion Clock | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

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