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113

Steven Lantner / Mat Maneri: Reaching

Robert Spencer By

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This one is aptly named. Steven Lantner and Mat Maneri are indeed reaching: for new combinations, new sounds, new potentialities to realize. This is extraordinarily active music, lurching every which way, jumping, skating, flying, and swooping down into a brood. Microtonality - the huge caverns between the conventional pitches, explored by Mat Maneri's father Joe - is the order of the day on Lantner's "variable-pitch digital piano," and of course it's been the mainstay of Mat's violin from the beginning.

It is probably impossible with a violin and piano duo to avoid classical resonances - especially when the musicians are as astute and knowledgeable as Lantner and Maneri. These pieces recall the works of Schonberg and Ives, with some hints here and there of Cecil Taylor's work with Leroy Jenkins and others. Ornette Coleman's violin work comes inescapably to mind as well, which I mean as no insult to such an obviously "real" violinist as Maneri - but like Ornette, the man knows how to make full use of the possibilities of his axe, "right way" and "wrong way" to play be damned.

Sometimes Maneri's violin achieves a hornlike clarity ("Sway"); elsewhere on the same track he glories in the overtones. Lantner is often a broad and dark presence while Maneri skips and dances. Occasionally they skip and dance together - a particularly fascinating example is the lightning call-and-response of "Keeping it There." Who is calling, and who is responding?

Dark, low key, searching, furious, exalted, exalting improvised music.


Track Listing: Reachin' and Grabbin'; In the River; Inside; Sway; Old Style; Magic; Moving; Planet o' Love; Waltzing; For You (For Me); Keeping it There; No Other.

Personnel: Steven Lantner: acoustic piano, variable-pitch digital piano; Mat Maneri: electric violin.

Title: Reaching | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Leo Records

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