Forget-Me-Not: Maneri / Morris / Maneri


Having listened to Out Right Now many years after its publication, I pushed myself to check old reviews on the web in order to see if the days spent decoding what the Maneris and Morris were trying to communicate were enough for me to avoid stereotypes, or if additional clues were needed to find a key opening the door to the concealed messages that this recording seems to transmit. I was astonished to unearth a few shallow paragraphs, one by an Italian (no surprise here) and another where, in ten lines or so, the chronicler lamented that the sound quality of the CD was inferior to that of certain “pristine” ECM releases.

Attempting to doing justice to an unsung album in such cases is at the same time difficult and very easy. A postulate afflicting the bulk of the humanity listening to music that cannot be memorized determines that they will most surely refuse it. Two musicians specialized in microtonal improvisation on reeds and violin (respectively, Joe and Mat for those who don’t know yet), the former occasionally erupting in a self-styled vocal idiom similar to that of a drunken native Indian, in union with a rare specimen of idiosyncratic jazz guitarist; that makes for some complex counterpoint, and in this live set (recorded in 1995 in Cologne) there’s plenty of that.

On the other hand, what this trio shows is an ability to involve an audience in something that transcends the mere circumstantial event (a “concert”) to become a snapshot of conversation without filters where the indubitable technical adroitness comes second, preceded by the feeling of edgy hesitation – often flowing into spectacular openings towards profundity – that characterizes unalloyed blends of instrumental expression. You can talk as you please of “tone”, “chords” or “interplay”; that’s not the point, though.

What we mean is that you may listen a thousand times to this release and still not have a clue about what the artists are implying (maybe they aren’t – they just play). But only the anal-retentive analysts are interested in giving a detailed account – a categorization, if so preferred – of what appears as a spontaneous phenomenon, thus sacrificing the sense of inner expansion generated by merging ourselves with what happens. The approach must be open-minded, discarding comparisons and personal taste; at that moment, several little revelations – fundamental for a better understanding – will start to appear.


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