By John Fordham
Unorthodox but mesmeringly beautiful music
Mat Maneri, son of the late saxophonist Joe Maneri and the pioneering viola player who can make the microtonal pitches between orthodox western intervals things of mesmerising beauty, has made a rare album under his own leadership. Maneri’s long-running partnership with expat Transylvanian pianist Lucian Ban forms two-thirds of this free jazz and improv dream team, the third member being British saxophone one-off Evan Parker. Minimal soprano-sax motifs twist and thicken against Maneri’s sinewy slithers and hard-plucked twangs and Ban’s damped, wide-spaced chords; dissonant viola drones embrace gentle tenor saxophone purrs that become light, squirming and balletic. This! is fast and jazzy, recalling Parker’s robust dialogues with the late Stan Tracey, the Ban-Maneri duet Sounding is expressively sombre and misty, Hymn (a lilting theme for the tenor) is the closest thing to an orthodox song. The fascinating creative tension between the trio’s differing views of composition/improv dialectics gives this set an unusually broad appeal – to devotees of contemporary classical music, ambient trippers, jazzers and sharp-end improv admirers alike.