Over the course of a quarter century career American violist Mat Maneri has “changed the way the jazz world listens to the violin and viola” (AllAboutJazz.com) and has established an international reputation as one of the most original and compelling artists of his generation. Maneri posses an immediately recognizable sound and approach which marries the distinct worlds of jazz and microtonal music in a fluid, remarkably expressive fashion which The Wire dubbed “endlessly fascinating.” Over the course of his career, Maneri has worked with 20th century icons of improvised music including his father Joe Maneri, Cecil Taylor, Tim Berne, William Parker, Craig Taborn and many others.
For Sounding Tears, his first release under his own name (not as co-leader or collaborator) in 12 years, Maneri has enlisted legendary British saxophonist Evan Parker, one of European avant-garde’s leading voices for the past four decades, alongside his long-standing collaborator, Romanian expat, pianist Lucian Ban.
The improvisations conjured by these improvisers bespeak a music of the new millennium – tender and lyrical while also angular, gritty and suspenseful. Reflecting on Sounding Tears Maneri says: “Music begins before music. As an improviser the first note I play sets in motion the whole world. As a trio, where does musical intimacy come from? Is it improvisation, is it chamber music? Is it jazz? The music on this album, the experience, empathy and the shared history that Evan and Lucian bring to Sounding Tears, is our answer to those questions.”
Maneri and Ban have been working together for close to a decade spanning a number of different projects. They met while working on Ban and bassist John Hebert’s Enesco Re-Imagined (Sunnyside, 2009). On one piece played a memorable duo, so remarkable that they didn’t hesitate to begin touring as a duo. This touring relationship ultimately resulted in their acclaimed recording, Transylvanian Concert (ECM, 2013). It was at the Bucharest release show for Transylvanian Concert that they invited Parker to be a special guest. The music was elevated to a new plane. The three played a few more times together before heading to Tedesco Studios in New Jersey in 2016 to record what would become Sounding Tears.
The music on the album showcases a side of the saxophonist’s playing not often heard on record – a more introverted, crooked way of phrasing, tenderly enveloped in Maneri and Ban’s sonic universe. Over the course of eight free improvisations and two written melodies, this trio showcases a distinct language; a language built on equality and listening with no grandstanding or hierarchical principles at play.
A notable influence on this album’s concept was the seminal 1995 ECM album Time Will Tell by Paul Bley, Evan Parker and Barre Phillips. This album meant an immeasurable amount to both Maneri and Ban. A sense of space invoked throughout and the collective phrasing were influential to both musicians. Bley was also one of the first people to give Joe Maneri and Mat Maneri the recognition they so deserved. Bley recommended them to ECM Records’ Manfred Eicher, with whom they went on to record with Barre Phillips and many others in a series of albums which are still cherished for their inventiveness.
Maneri sums up the spirit of Sounding Tears. “It’s like Lester Young mixed with something insane; rooted in the past of an alternate universe which may have never existed.” No other words can describe the dualities that this record holds within itself – the music is both cutting-edge and remarkably progressive while also being firmly rooted in tradition, song, and improvisational tactics which recall 20th century modern classical music in addition to jazz. The sound of Sounding Tears is the sound of three master musicians playing with integrity and heart, listening as much as asserting, letting silence dictate as much as sonic density. It’s a treat and a delight to hear a recontextualized Evan Parker sitting patiently, enmeshing himself in a codified universe that Maneri and Ban have been crafting for several years.
About Evan Parker
Internationally celebrated saxophonist Evan Parker has been at the forefront of European avant-garde for more than 40 years defining an extraordinary voice and body of work. In that time Parker has consistently defied expectations about the sonic possibilities of the saxophone, developing a voice unparalleled in the history of the instrument. His 1970 album The Topography of the Lungs with guitarist Derek Bailey and percussionist Han Bennink is considered a milestone of the free improvisation genre. A collaborator of Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, Paul Bley, Dave Holland, George Lewis, John Zorn, Alexander von Schlippenbach and many more, Parker is considered “one the music’s greatest living instrumentalists” (The New York Times), and “one of the world’s finest improvisers” (Chicago Reader). At 73 years old Evan Parker still tours and giving concerts all over the world.
About Mat Maneri and Lucian Ban
Mat Maneri and Lucian Ban first worked together in 2009 on Enesco Re-Imagined, a third stream extravaganza that was dedicated to the music of the great Romanian composer George Enesco. The album was recognized by several in the media as one of the top albums of that year. JazzTimes wrote “Enesco Re-Imagined is visionary third-stream music.” Maneri and Ban’s duo, Transylvanian Concert, released by ECM in 2013 won critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, including several best of the year lists. The Guardian noted Transylvanian Concert’s “Own kind of melancholy beauty and wayward exuberance”, and The New York Times called it “a lovely and restive new album,” while AllAboutJazz.com hailed its “Moments of unanticipated beauty.”
All songs published Mat Maneri/Personasound Music BMI, except ‘Hymn’ Lucian Ban/KetzaMusic, BMI. All pieces improvised in the studio with the exception of ‘Blessed’ by Mat Maneri and ‘Hymn’ by Lucian Ban
Recorded September 21st, 2014 at Tedesco Studios, Paramus NJ by Tom Tedesco | Mixed and mastered May and September 2016 by Max Ross at Systems Two, Brooklyn NY
Produced by Mat Maneri, Evan Parker and Lucian Ban | Executive Production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos