Alto saxophonist and composer Sarah Manning is a harmonious creature. She is the lone red fox atop a pile of shale on the outskirts of the urban landscape, her singular musical voice illustrating the contradiction of an artist drawn to the woods even as she feels the gaze of a thousand bright city lamps. With the release of Harmonious Creature on Posi-Tone on January 21st, 2014, she unites the small town and the metropolis with compositions featuring violist Eyvind Kang, electric guitarist Jonathan Goldberger, bassist Rene Hart and drummer Jerome Jennings.
According to JazzTimes critic Carlo Wolff, “There’s something animistic about Manning’s work…Her music – original and brave – shows Manning knows where the wild things are. That’s because she’s one herself.” Much of the work on Harmonious Creature was written in the company of owl, coyote, bear, porcupine and salamander while Manning was an October 2012 Fellow in Composition at the MacDowell Colony. She worked in a studio in the New Hampshire woods Aaron Copland occupied in 1956, inspiring the composition “Copland on Cornelia Street” which imagines the American orchestral composer checking out the after hours New York City improvised music scene.
Manning has released four albums as a leader. Harmonious Creature is her second for Posi-Tone Records, the follow up to 2010’s Dandelion Clock, which was number one on Carlo Wolff’s top-ten list for JazzTimes and landed her third place in the 2010 JazzTimes Reader’s Poll in the category of Best New Artist. Dandelion Clock was an early June top-ten pick for 2010 by NPR’s A Blog Supreme. In 2011, Manning led her quartet at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival in support of the material on the album.
Sarah Manning began her recording career in the San Francisco Bay Area. Recognition of her individual voice came early in the form of liner notes by Nat Hentoff for her debut, House on Eddy Street (Elflion Records 2004). Hentoff wrote: “Manning plays – and writes – in what is unmistakably her own voice.” David Franklin of JazzTimes was in agreement, saying, “Sounding like no one but herself, she possesses a well-focused, slightly edgy tone…” In 2006 she released Live at Yoshi’s: Two Rooms Same Door on ArtistShare, an interactive experience with fans that included downloadable audio broadcasts, sheet music, essays and documentation of the creative process involved in recording live at Yoshi’s Jazz House in Oakland. In 2007 she was profiled in the DownBeat Player’s section and in Chamber Music Magazine, helping to bring her work to a national audience.