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Album Review

With several previous collaborations under their belt, and a familial relationship, the idea of Joe and Mat Maneri working together seems entirely logical. When put together with them, any other musician would seem likely to be the odd man out. However, that is not quite how Three Men Walking works. It is true that the two Maneris probably share more stylistically, with their explorations of microtonalism and world music, but Morris is both an innovative player and a flexible one, and manages to fit into the group just fine. This is not because of rigorous planning and rehearsals — the recording sessions were the de facto beginnings for this trio as their collaboration lasted only for a tour afterwards — but largely because of the contributions of Mat Maneri, who often acted as a bridge between Morris and his father. This album is improvisation at its freest, with crisp, articulate guitar work on the part of Morris existing side by side with Joe Maneri's effort to coax out the tiniest spaces in between notes to produce a rich rainbow of sounds. The bridge between the two is often Mat Maneri, who plays an electric violin that emulates both the string instrument qualities of Morris' guitar and the breathy sounds of Joe Maneri's horns. Mat Maneri's bowing also often provides some grounding for the shorter, sharper notes of Joe Maneri and Morris, at times acting almost like a band stretching out to connect the two divergent sounds. Beyond Mat Maneri's impressive violin work, several other factors conspire to help this album to succeed. The first is the gentleness of it — never does it become frantic, rarely argumentative. Also, while there aren't long periods of quiet or relief here, there is a sense of space between notes that allows the divergent threads of the music a little room to rattle around. Thirdly, the trio is given opportunity to split apart for track-long solos and duos, which show off their individual strengths and allow for greater appreciation of the work that is done as a whole. The music here is radically creative without being inaccessible, a beautiful example of innovation in jazz.


Born: February 9, 1927 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Microtonal innovator Joe Maneri was born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1927, learning to play clarinet from a neighborhood shoemaker and making his professional debut on the Catskills society band circuit at age 17. Three years later, he was introduced to the work of Arnold Schoenberg, the famed inventor of the 12-tone system, and immediately thereafter formed his own 12-tone jazz ensemble, additionally performing in a number of ethnic music combos. A decade of study under composer Joseph Schmidt (himself...
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Three Men Walking, Joe Maneri
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