Tales Of Rohnlief represents woodwind specialist Joe Maneri’s fourth recording for the ECM label. Along with his son, violinist and respected solo artist Mat Maneri and the venerable bassist Barre Phillips, the musicians once again pursue microtonal passages and highly conversational interplay while also utilizing space and undulating sequences or implied meter to their advantage.
Electric violinist Mat Maneri’s brief jagged lines and Barre Phillips arco-bass and deft picking provides good contrast on the piece titled, “Rohnlief” and throughout the entire recording. Here, Joe Maneri’s somewhat boisterous tenor work aims to push and prod his bandmates while the musicians also inject a bit of pathos and lighthearted dialogue into the busy proceedings. Joe Maneri picks up the clarinet on “A Long Way From Home”, as the musicians construct dwarfish themes with pinpoint accuracy and varying degrees of intensity akin to a lively debate yet the musicians occasionally engage in abstruse movements through sublime and at times, meticulous three-way dialogue.
One common denominator or perhaps the foundation for much of Joe and Mat Maneri’s music consists of long rests in between measures as the soloist’s generally state themes in rotation while often converging in climactic fashion as these pieces progress. Joe Maneri’s lyrical clarinet performance on “The Field” merely suggests motifs as though he was tempting us to put the pieces of the puzzle together as the musicians leave some room for the listener’s imagination while the Trio ultimately unite towards the finale.
Tales Of Rohnlief is yet another strong outing from a musician/educator who at the age of 73, would be considered a late bloomer to the modern jazz/improv scene since his recording career commenced in the early 90’s. Hence, Joe Maneri’s late arrival or perhaps a better depiction would be – recent notoriety has created something of a buzz within improvisational circles as Maneri recordings are considered to be something of an event these days. After years of teaching in the New England area, Joe Maneri along with his equally adept son Mat Maneri and the legendary bassist Barre Phillips have created a series of works that extend previous concepts and hint towards new beginnings in modern improvisation. The Maneri’s unique improvisational speak, which is based upon microtones and to some extent minimalism has enlivened the eyes and ears of pre-existing and new audience’s alike, as Tales Of Rohnlief extends this somewhat interminable journey in impressive fashion! * * * *
Joe Maneri; Alto & Tenor Saxophones, Clarinet, Piano & Voice: Barre Phillips; Double-Bass: Mat Maneri; Electric 6-String & Baritone Violins
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.