Mood Swing-From 'Chamber Jazz'

Chamber Jazz Album Reviews


November 2016

4.5 stars


“…Now based in California, composer and multi-reed whiz Jacam Manricks describes himself as "Sri Lankan- Portuguese Australian-born." In other words he's the virtual embodiment of a world citizen. When it comes to his music, Manricks is unafraid to draw from pretty much any source for inspiration. The wryly-titled Chamber Jazz comprises eight Manricks originals plus a cover of Miles Davis' "Deception" and an adaptation of Jean Sibelius' "En Etsi Valtaa Loistoa" (I Seek No Power or Glory). Despite the repeated references to classical music (the Sibelius tune and another one titled "Beethoven"), there's not much on Chamber Jazz that one would actually consider Chamber Jazz. Thanks in no small part to the perpetually swinging, forward-leaning energy of his rhythm section, Manricks' music comes across as raw, sinewy and soulful modern jazz with brains. Sure, there's a tune titled "ECMish" (a descriptor this author is guilty of over-using), but if you listen it's apparent that the reference to ECM here is purely tongue-in-cheek.

It's doubly ironic that Manricks recorded a very impressive album with a chamber orchestra titled Labyrinth (Manricks Music Records, 2009), to which the title of the present album might've actually applied. There are some multi-reed overdubs, and a smattering of Fender Rhodes here and there, but the music on Chamber Jazz is, for the most part, much more stripped down and obviously part of the jazz continuum than that on Labyrinth. A few tracks here, nevertheless, hearken back to the music on that previous recording. "Mood Swing" is a complex, multi-sectioned piece framed by Ari Hoenig's somewhat martial-sounding drums and a twisting, arching chord progression which provides Manricks ample room to improvise like a madman on his primary axe: the alto saxophone. Propelled by an odd-metered ostinato, "Beethoven" has a dark urgency and somewhat more of an ECM-like feel than the pretty, pastoral "ECMish." By contrast, "Forbidden Fruit" is all accents played in tutti by the quartet. Then, bassist Gianluca Renzi digs deep for a brief solo before Hoenig gets the green light to go all funky under the leader's burning alto. Kevin Hays lays out completely on a few tracks. "Wandina" is a complicated math-jazz piece; a bit like the stuff Steve Lehman is doing with his trio these days. Both "Cry" and "Cloud Nine" are a driving medium-up tunes with complicated accent-ridden heads that make the most of the chemistry between Hoenig and Manricks.

The more conventional pieces on Chamber Jazz are no less refreshing. The title of "Thread" might refer to the way that Manricks weaves the melody through the composition's rhythmic nuances. It's an up-tempo piece blessed by Hoenig's ceaselessly imaginative drumming and a characteristically lush solo by Hays. The Sibelius piece is presented as an affecting ballad with a hymnic, down-home feel; a bit like something Keith Jarrett might've done back in the 1970s. "Deception," another piece presented sans piano gets a pointillistic read, but swings like mad from start to finish…” Dave Wayne 11/19/16


February 2017


“…Australian saxophonist Jacám Manricks provides his own definition of classi- cal/jazz hybridity with Chamber Jazz (Self Release; 71:17 HHH1/2), a taut, neatly executed album that advances the notion of jazz as a chamber music. The quartet assembled here—Manricks on various woodwinds, Ari Hoenig on drums, Ginaluca Renzi on bass and Kevin Hays on keyboards—stresses musical communication over flashes of virtuosity. Meticulous interactions between Manricks’ soprano saxophone and Hoenig’s snare drum on “Cloud Nine” are marvels of rhythmic interplay…” Brian Zimmerman


December 2016

“…Alto saxophonist Jacam Manricks teams up with Kevin Hays/p, Ari Hoenig/dr and Gianluca Renzi/b for an exciting album of post bop originals. He’s got a rich and warm tone on the alto, and can make it work on muscular and angular pieces such as the complex “Thread” or the sweet and soft “En Esti “Valtaa Loistoa” where he floats over Hays’ piano. The crystalline “ECMish” features his soprano over Hoenig’s skating cymbals and Hays’ romantic chords while the intertwining “Wandina” has him swirling around Renzi’s bass with a dervish of a melody. No matter the setting, his rich sound keeps you enthralled on each moment…”

Review by George Harris for Jazz Weekly December 2016




October 2016

“…Saxophonist/composer Jacám Manricks’ new release titled Chamber Jazz features elements of jazz fused with classical music and their many styles. The idea behind the recording originated from the many influences Manricks heard in the music of Miles Davis, Beethoven, Milton Nascimento, Jean Sibelius, Charlie Parker and Ornette Coleman. The challenges he faced when bringing his musical visions to fruition were deftly met by a group of highly qualified musicians. Among those assisting Manricks, (who plays alto, soprano and tenor saxophones, flute, alto flute and clarinet) is none other than the highly respected drummer Ari Hoenig. Kevin Hays plays piano and Fender Rhodes and Gianluca Renzi is on acoustic bass.

Manricks’ compositional acuity as well as his performances speak volumes about the dedication and attention given to each song. He wrote all of the songs with the exception of Miles Davis’ “Deception,” and “En Etsi Valtaa Loistoa” which was written by Jean Sibelius. His writing and playing are a conglomeration of different styles from the opening notes of “Thread” to the comptemplative conclusion presented in “Cloud Nine.” “Beethoven” is a contrafact on the great composer’s Moonlight Sonata  while “Wandana” was inspired by a lesser-known 20th century classical composer named Sigfrid Karg-Elert.

Overall, each musician in this excellent quartet is at the top of their game and the rhythmic, harmonic and melodic variations as well as a beautiful contrapuntal approach they take makes this recording a must hear…”


November 18 2016

Jacam Manricks’ ‘Chamber Jazz’ seeks unity in differences

“…In the wrong hands, abstract jazz could easily go sideways, presenting itself as a jumble of noise, not music. Luckily, the Oct. 28, 2016 recording of Chamber Jazz rests in the righteous hands of bandleader Jacám Manricks.

The Australia-born/New York-based Portuguese/Sri Lankan artist is behind the 10 wonderfully composed, thought-provoking, and feel-good meanderings of a small jazz group featuring himself on all manner of sax, flute, and clarinet, acoustic bassist Gianluca Renzi, drummer Ari Hoenig, and keyboardist Kevin Hays.

In the Chamber Jazz EPK, Manricks aptly described his new album: “What might sound jarring, discordant to one person, can sound beautiful, or elegant to another. There is this space in music for people to experience their own thoughts, to feel emotion, to explore their imaginations and what that music means to them.”

Such musical freedom is indeed rife with unpredictable, welcome surprises, enlivening a palpable landscape of intentional sonic pictures. Manricks composed eight of the instrumentals, borrowing two others from Miles Davis (“Deception”) and Jean Sibelius (“En Etsi Valtaa Loistoa [Julvisa; I Seek No Power Or Glory]”).

The addition of classical instrumentation and themes — his family is steeped in the tradition — with the heartbeat of experi[;mental jazz this side of hard- and post-bop allows such freedoms to contain a pleasant sense of escapism without going too far off the deep end.

“My writing and playing has always been a conglomeration of different styles, particularly drawing from my jazz and classical background, and more recently different folk music,” Manricks said in a press release from Two For The Show Media. “This project, in a way, is a culmination of that.”

Manricks goes further creatively on his brass and reeds than almost any other abstract artist on the canvas, hitting on the temporal quality of thought and emotion for a smoke and mirrors effect. “Cry” is exceptional in this regard. He makes his sax weep and wail on Hoenig’s steadily inducing beats — calling to mind a native American call to arms — without ever becoming tedious, dreary, or worse, self-masturbatory.

The offset pace of the instrumentals lends well to the unpredictability, essential to keeping listeners reeled in. Manricks and his crew refuse to follow a customary beat, shaking it up when it begins to get too terribly safe. “Cloud Nine” lives on that shaky rhthm, at once unpredictably abstract and deliciously groove-worthy.

An unfortu]nate offshoot of abstract jazz is a tendency for mediocre artists to go rogue, often or shock value, losing mainstream listeners by the boatload — the antithesis of true avant-garde anything.

Somehow, Manricks and his small chamber jazz group are able to produce beautifully melodic music in unpredictable measures over an engaging, rhythmic beat that takes different directions and half-steps mid-stream, lest the listener get too comfortable in any one style.

These guys get it.

On the opening, brilliant “Thread,” Manricks draws on every stylistic color under the sun, arcing from a tiny hint of Latin to straight-ahead, to mesmerizing avant-garde tendencies in the smooth jazz shifts — without ever losing the listener’s interest, or curiosity for what’s next.

This is what every avant-garde jazz artist dreams of accomplishing on a good day, and one Manricks seems to do effortlessly with every tasteful drop of his notes.

“Jazz has always been a hybrid art form with different subgenres evolving out of other musical styles,” Manricks explained in his liner notes. “For my generation, one of the most influential styles affecting the development of jazz, other than its own various subgenres, is 20th century classical music. In addition to these styles, as well as international folk and traditional music, the material on this album draws from earlier classical music traditions, such as those found in the Romantic and Classical periods.”

Jacám Manricks’ Chamber Jazz features artistry, originality, daring inventiveness, and a willingness to embrace the virtues of the melodic, the harmonic, and the modest extremes between the two for a perfect middle ground of thoughtful, emotional music for both avant-garde and regular jazz…” Carol Banks Weber


October 2016

A nice straight-ahead modern session from saxophonist Jacam Manricks, pianist Kevin Hays, bassist Gianluca Renzi and drummer Ari Hoenig.  There’s a bright sunshine lightness to this music, even when the quartet raises their voice or, conversely, latches onto a groove when Hays switches over to Fender Rhodes.  Plenty of nice soloing, but it’s how the quartet meshes when the soloing subsides that shows this album at its best.  Particularly appealing is how casual Manricks sounds on saxophone, even though the richness of his lyrical approach indicates the presence of a substantive focus.  Good stuff.

Review by By Dave Sumner This is Jazz Today-BIRDISTHEWORM.COM

Sea Of Tranquility

December 2016

There's no doubt that the new album from saxophone playing flutist and clarinet man Jacam Manricks lives up to its name, Chamber Jazz. And yet you can't quite help but get the feel that the title is also a little ironic – and intentionally so, what with the multitude of other styles and approaches he and his assembled cast live out. With piano and fender rhodes playing Kevin Hays, acoustic bass man Gianluca Renzi and dextrous drummer Arj Hoenig making up the 'backing band' it's little surprise that what the quartet produce is sumptuously performed, tightly executed jazz of the highest order. Manricks afforded the time to spread out through the solid and at times flashy base set out for him.

With "Thread" roaming and melodic, the overall feel is of tight looseness, where each member has a clearly defined role and yet the scope to push, pull and expand their parts within a framework. For proof just listen to the punchy percussion Hoenig is allowed to display as the remaining trio riff off each other in mighty fashion. That the next cut, a reimagining of "En Etsi Valtaa Loistoa (Julvisa) I Seek No Power Or Glory", composed by Jean Sibelius, is so refined and restrained, creates a mighty contrast. And yet it's no less assured or memorable, the dancing piano and sax poignant and heartfelt, although this time it's maybe Hays' piano that proves most memorable.

The only other non-original on display is the Miles Davis number "Deception", Manricks scaling up and down, staccato bursts quite captivating, the strong feel of a band pulling in the same direction in evidence once more, but again, not in a manner that makes them feel constrained in any way. From the other originals, "Forbidden Fruit" sounds every bit as brooding as its name suggests, while "Cloud Nine" adds a nodding wink of smoothness that maybe isn't seen anywhere else. Finally the wryly titled (and not wholly accurate) "ECMish" draws you in and seduces you in the most hypnotic way imaginable.

With a name like Chamber Jazz you could be forgiven for thinking that what Jacam Manricks has created here is a little one dimensional. However while classical themes and approaches appear throughout, this is a diverse, varied collection and one that's all the better for it…” 4 stars, Steven Reid

Cloud Nine Album Reviews


“…Australian-born, New York-based alto saxophonist-composer Jacam Manricks has been quietly churning out quality recordings as a leader that feature some of the most in-demand players on the NYC scene. Cloud Nine, his fourth, is no exception. With Adam Rogers on guitar, Matt Wilson on drums and Sam Yahel on organ, he has recruited first-class talent. Together they forge a potent, swinging chemistry on Manricks originals like “Any Minute Now,” the soothing, harmonically rich “Loaf” and the “Giant Steps”-influenced “Take the Five Train.” Rogers is a six-string marvel throughout, and Wilson’s choices never fail to surprise. Manricks proves himself a stellar improviser, particularly with his impassioned, unaccompanied “Serene Pilgrimage.” The copasetic crew also turns in a sparsely haunting rendition of Jobim’s “Luiza” to close…”


“…If you are looking to gift a hip jazz CD that won’t offend yet will impress, here is a contender. Matt Wilson has little to prove other than his usual sensitivity and responsiveness, and Sam Yahel’s organ provides the shag-pile on which everything rests.  Australian born alto saxophonist Manricks has a Sri Lankan/Portuguese background and both jazz and classical forebears in the family, so is steeped in cultural interchange; his artistry possesses old-soul provenance. Subtle metrical shifts abound, and the title piece has punning implications of 9/8. Yahel does a supurb job imbuing the Finish Hymn “Ystava Sa Lapsien” with a haunting, elegiac quality. Wilson whips up a quiet storm in back to stem any syrup as Adam Rogers, the consummate sideman, drop shadows. On “Any Minute Now”, a phrase syllabically repeated in various modulations, Yahel drops a fragment of “If I Only Had A Brain”, after the leader’s buoyant, well constructed solo and a passing suggestion of the Harold Arlen melody in Rogers foray…”


“…Trigonometry, the third album by alto saxophone rising star Jacám Manricks, was a stellar post-bop set. It was just the kind of record you’d expect with a guy of his experience, education and raw talent, accompanied by such leading lights as Gary Versace, Joe Martin and Alan Ferber. For his next album, Cloud Nine, Manricks trades in the sax/trumpet/trombone sextet for a sax/organ/guitar/drums quartet and the lineup is even more impressive than before: Sam Yahel (organ), Adam Rogers (guitar) and Matt Wilson (drums), all legit composers and leaders in their on right, form Manricks’ backing band for this outing. Oh, and David Weiss adds his trumpet for one track.

The change in lineup and structure doesn’t change Manricks’ compositional approach, which combines subtly complex rhythms with harmonies that are rooted in tradition but modern in scope. Yes, the music is soulful, but this isn’t soul-jazz any more than the prior record was.

Yahel is the organ guy to call up when you need just the right cadence, the rightfeel coming from that Hammond B-3, and not just a bunch of Jimmy Smith licks. Though he barely takes a solo on this Finnish hymn converted into a mood piece “Ystävä Sä Lapsien,” it’s the moan and dirge-y sound he gets from his organ that makes the song. Manricks often calls for a lot of swing, and Wilson ably supplies it on such finger snapping tunes like “Cloud Nine,” Any Minute Now” and “Take The Five Train” (YouTube below), which borrows some chords from Coltrane’s “Countdown” and makes it into a less tense, more swingin’ affair. Adams’s soft fluid lines work well with Manricks; “Take The Five Train” and “Cry” contain spotlight moments by him.

Weiss’ cameo occurs on one of the ballads, “Alibis And Lullabies,” where both he and Manricks turn in exquisitely understated solos. In case there needed to be any reminder whose record this is, Manricks performs “Secret Pilgrimage” all by himself, showing impressive technique, real emotion and unwavering vitality.

I’m not gonna lie to you, stocking the roster with all-stars at the peak of their own careers makes the record better, heck, it’s almost an unfair advantage. But Manricks definitely belongs in that group. With his fourth album now under his belt, Manricks is coming along right on schedule, and I get the feeling we haven’t even heard the best from him yet. Meanwhile, Cloud Nine is an enjoyable stop on the way up to the top…”


The euphoria-based title of Jacam Manricks’ latest album makes perfect sense. After all, who wouldn’t be on cloud nine with a band like this?! For his fourth album, the Australian-born, New York-based saxophonist mingles with three modernist elites who help to shape and define his sound. While Manricks’ compositional prowess could easily allow him to fully script every little musical nuance conveyed on this album, he wisely allows the distinct personalities on this date to add their own thoughts while still maintaining his vision.

Guitarist Adam Rogers joins Manricks on the front line, using his focused, yet lithe lines to deliver compelling solos and shadow the saxophonist during their mutual melodic excursions. Drummer Matt Wilson brings his inimitable sense of groove-plus-the-unexpected into Manricks’ world and, though he’s often the game changer when he shows up in the studio, that distinction goes to somebody else on this date. Organist Sam Yahel proves to be the most important impetus in helping Manricks explore new frontiers in his own work. Yahel’s playing is nothing short of spectacular, as he explores the aural possibilities that exist within the organ.

The album opens on the pulsating title track, but the mood quickly changes. Manricks’ arrangement of a Finnish hymn (“Ystava Sa Lapsien”) finds the group in looser confines. Yahel’s mysterious and semi-atmospheric organ and Wilson’s free-roaming thoughts set the tone for this song before the mournful theme comes into focus. “Any Minute Now” features an easygoing melody, as Wilson steers the ship with his Afro-Cuban-to-swing shifts, and Manricks’ nod to John Coltrane—”Take The Five Train”—proves to be the high point of the album. He borrows the changes from Coltrane’s “Countdown” and puts them in a 5/4 frame, but it’s his soloing, rather than this reconstruction, that makes this track such a winner. The heartfelt “Cry” also finds Manricks in fine form, as he delivers swooping runs during his solo spot.

While the first half of the album flies high on the ideas and machinations that Manricks concocts, the album hits a slight rough patch after the halfway point. “Alibis And Lullabies,” which features a guest appearance from trumpeter David Weiss, comes across as a bit underdeveloped and listless. The follow-up track—the unaccompanied “Serene Pilgrimage”—provides a welcome look at Manricks, as a solo performer, but it sounds more like woodshedding than fully formed music. Fortunately, things come back into focus with “Loaf” and the album ends with a stellar reading of Antonio Carlos Jobim‘s “Luiza.” This last number is a textural marvel, as Manricks delivers under-his-breath lines behind Rogers before coming into the light. Yahel blends in and out of the scenery, while Wilson keeps everything on the grid with his soft, but firm brushwork. This number is a true team effort in every respect…and that’s what jazz is all about.

Track Listing: Cloud Nine; Ystava Sa Lapsien; Any Minute Now; Take The Five Train; Cry; Alibis And Lullabies; Serene Pilgrimage; Loaf; Luiza.

Personnel: Jacam Manricks: alto saxophone; David Weiss: trumpet (6); Adam Rogers: guitar; Sam Yahel: organ; Matt Wilson: drums.


“…Cloud Nine should easily make my year end best of list! Jacam Manricks musical stock is an arrow pointing straight up. Aside from Cloud Nine as his fourth release as a leader, Manricks is compositionally outpacing a great number of his contemporaries and when you toss in his well-respected status as an educator then you have one of the brightest alto saxophone talents to come along in some time.

“Cloud Nine” which is also the title track of this release captures and reflects the vibrant jazz scene that is the Big Apple. Creativity is the key word here as the band swings hard and when you have Matt Wilson not just in the pocket but owning it then the stage is ready for a killer record and Manricks slays this tune. “Any Minute Now” is a personal favorite. A keen sense of melody and a semi-hybrid of Afro-Cuban rhythm with a more standard swing feel and again the lyrical intensity from Manricks on this track seals the deal. “Alibis And Lullabies” features a guest shot by trumpet phenom David Weiss who takes a bit more command than usual on this gorgeous ballad dedicated to Manricks grandmother who recently passed on. “Loaf” features some great guitar work from the often under appreciated Adam Rogers. This is actually two tunes in one with a slight re harm that adds flavor without mangling a good melody. The first part of the tune is “Long Ago (and Far Away) and the second part of  ”I’m Old Fashioned.” Manricks creates a new tune but doing a riff on each. The only non original is a rarely performed ( by jazz artists) tune from Antonio Carlos Jobim and a perfect fit for this most formidable quintet. I would be remiss if I did not mention the outstanding organ work by the great Sam Yahel.

While this is of course Manricks release there is that delightful working band feel that can and in this case does take a very good release up to a great release in short order. Lyrically driven and with the ability to shift harmonics on the fly there is variety, texture and soul to one of the better releases you may find this year. One bit of irony at least for me is that Manricks is from Australia and I have yet to take on an Australian artist that was not top notch – Manricks keeps the streak going! Taste is of course subjective but it will show up again on my year end best of list!

Tracks: Cloud Nine; Ystava Sa Lapsien; Any Minute Now; Take The Five Train; Cry; Alibis and Lullabies; Serene Pilgrimage; Loaf; Luiza.

Personnel: Jacam Manricks: alto saxophone; David Weiss: trumpet (6); Adam Rogers: guitar; Sam Yahel: organ; Matt Wilson: drums.

5 Stars. Literally flawless with every aspect of the release on point!


“…Jacám Manricks – Cloud Nine (PosiTone Records) – For his second release on the Positone label (and 4th overall), alto saxophonist Jacám Manricks, a native of Brisbane, Australia, has assembled quite a cast to play his music.  GuitaristAdam Rogers, organist Sam Yahel, drummer Matt Wilson and, on one cut, trumpeter David Weiss, do exactly what one might expect, play with fire and intelligence. Wilson keeps the rhythms flowing and, on pieces such as the Finnish hymn “Ystava Sa Lapsien“, creates a “conversationalist” tone with the other musicians, not driving the song but adding numerous colors.  Rogers shares the front line while playing with intelligence and creativity throughout. He can so exciting even at lower volumes, as he so nicely displays on “ Take The Five Train.”   Yahel is a double threat – his bass pedal work sets the foundation for the songs, opening up the “bottom” for Wilson’s highly active percussion while his solos sparkle with invention (his work in the background also is quite fine. The organ and guitar spin a lovely web on “Cry“, Manricks wisely holding off until both have had their say. Then, he “ups” the intensity level with a crackling solo.  Although listed alongside the other musicians, Weiss only appears on the languid “Alibis and Lullabies “, his declaratory solo, with his crisp intonation, a pleasing foil to the bluesier sounds of the saxophonist.

As for Manricks, he plays like he composes, with great assurance and fluidity.  His compositions are fully-realized, not just riffs for solos.  When he steps out, one hear the lineage of alto saxophone, with hints of Charlie Parker’s flurry of riffs, Cannonball Adderley’s bluesy tones and the occasional more contemporary attack of David Binney.  Truly, he has absorbed any and all influences which the listener hear in great clarity on his unaccompanied piece “Serene Pilgrimage.”  He displays a much softer and richly melodic side on Antonio Jobim’s “Luiza” – while Wilson’s drums dance beneath, the saxophone, guitar and organ weave around each other with gentle phrases swirling about.

As one knows, there are, seemingly, thousands of fine musicians throughout the world.  Many of them are technically adept, many are good composers and arrangers, but few are as accomplished as Jacám Manricks.  His writing is intelligent but not scholarly and his musicianship excellent and often soulful.  “Cloud Nine” shines!  For more information, go to….”


“…Saxophonist Jacam Manricks is a player with a strong melodic sensibility, performing on this album with a potent unit which includes the leader on alto saxophone, Adam Rogers on guitar,

Sam Yahel on organ, Matt Wilson on drums and David Weiss sitting in for one track on trumpet. Manricks has a has a nice and individual tone on the alto saxophone, a light and floating texture that makes a marked contrast to the more pinched and tart feel favored many other alto players. The band’s patient and subtle style of music works quite well, and should make their music accessible to mainstream jazz fans. The combination of organ and guitar is always a beguiling one and particularly here with Yahel and Rogers playing together, and combining with them always excellent drummer Matt Wilson to lay superb foundation stones for Manricks’ solo flights and their own individual statements. Inspired by a visit to visit to the grave of Eric Dolphy, one of his prime inspirations, “Serene Pilgrimage” is particularly interesting, with Manricks taking the song as an unaccompanied solo performance, developing a meditation and mindful format that allows him to show off different facets of his technique. The majority of the compositions are Manricks originals, leading off with the title track “Cloud Nine” which makes the most of his light and airy tone, interacting with the band at speed. David Weiss sits in with the group on the complex original “Lullabies and Alibis” and the album closes with their sole non-original, a lilting performance of “Luiza” by Antonio Carlos Jobim…”


“…JACAM MANRICKS/Cloud Nine: Manricks makes you wish we were still living in a time when music was one of the main drivers of the culture and he would be celebrated rather than be another cat fighting for his piece of the pie. A stellar sax player that could spent the rest of his career on auto pilot and not draw any negative criticism for it, his writing and playing are so on the money that you know his next release will be more than just another one in the series. Spurred on by a certain timelessness that will always keep this set right in the moment, jazzbos looking for some good, solid music won’t be disappointed by anything on display here. Hot stuff that delivers.


“…Jacám Manricks is a saxophonist of incomparable technical skill with an engaging alto tone. His original compositions are challenging, yet maintain engaging and accessible qualities. His latest for Posi-Tone Records is Cloud Nine, featuring organist Sam Yahel, guitarist Adam Rogers and drummer Matt Wilson.
Despite this first-rate cast, a disc highlight is “Serene Pilgrimage”, a solo saxophone improv inspired by a visit Manricks made to the gravesite of Eric Dolphy. Other tracks of note include a 5/4 interpretation of John Coltrane’s “Countdown” called “Take the Five Train” with blistering saxophone work, and the ballad “Alibis and Lullabies” featuring guest trumpeter David Weiss…”


“…Jacam Manricks is an odd combination of traditionalist and
adventurer. There are times when the New York-based Australian’s
music sounds like a throwback to the Mad Men era: unruffled,
suave, effortlessly melodic. Then he hits you with a little sonic
exploration or a composition that defies prediction at almost
every turn, and you realise what a canny artist he is.
Canny enough to use organ on this new album. For years the
instrument’s only place in jazz was digging giant grooves and
filling them with thick weaves of sound. Gradually its chameleon-
like adaptability has come to be exploited: its ability to create
constantly shifting timbral backdrops, not to mention the
different texture and momentum offered by organ bass-pedals, as
opposed to using a bass.

Here the player is the brilliant Sam Yahel, joining the
leader’s alto saxophone, Adam Rogers (guitar) and Matt Wilson
(drums), with beautiful cameos from trumpeter David Weiss.
Wilson’s loose, lithe approach works well with the thrum of the
organ pedals, and Rogers’ restraint is at one with Manricks’
musicality. The saxophonist’s playing is steeped in bebop’s
agility, but has a woody mellifluousness, while his wide range of
compositional interests defies the norms of the organ/guitar
line-up and keeps this album engaging and surprising.
Manricks appears at 505 on August 30, and leads his own band
at the Sound Lounge, September 7…”


“…Following his highly acclaimed 2011 release Trigonometry, Brisbane born, New York based saxophonist/composer Jacam Manricks has put together an all new group for his fourth album, comprising seven originals plus two others. The high quality of Manricks’s intellectually stimulating compositions is already established and two in this collection are especially interesting because they take existing numbers and cleverly re-format them.  Loaf is based on the first part of Long Ago And Far Away and the second half of I’m Old Fashioned, opening with Sam Yahel’s organ and Adam Rogers’s guitar along with Matt Wilson’s drums, setting a jaunty rhythm for an alto and guitar paired theme. And when the alto starts to solo it soars high into exhilarating harmonics with swooping runs to lead into equally galvanising guitar work. The other re-worked piece is Take The Five Train, based on John Coltrane’s Countdown, arranged in 5/4 time and it sets out with a speeding Coltrane–style unaccompanied alto sequence improvising over the original changes, an approach that is maintained later in Manricks’s solo now underpinned by the rest of the group. Trumpeter David Weiss is brought on forAlibis and Lullabies to contribute in unison with the leader in the opening and closing of a slow and aching melody, on which both alto and trumpet solo with empathy. A lesser-known Jobim tune Luiza, features a variety of skilful interplay between organ, guitar and alto whilst Wilson maintains soft but firm brushwork throughout. Jacam Manricks, heading a NY trio, is touring Australia and New Zealand during August and September…”

Trigonometry Reviews


“…Superb saxophone work, intellectually stimulating writing and ingeniously dovetailed rhythmic lines are the three sides that form the musical shape on Trigonometry….” “…Saxophonist/composer Jacám Manricks enjoys creating some rhythmic friction—using different combinations of instruments and musicians within his group—while also treating each piece like a fresh canvas, ready to be turned into high art…” His pleasing and pure-toned sound is used to create a hybrid style that owes as much to classical saxophone writing and left-of-center jazz work as it does to straight ahead music…” “…elegantly gliding over the groove in seven…” “…a luxuriant blend between the different instrumental voices in the group. Fresh harmonies and a unique writing style…” “…Manricks’ soloing is absorbing “…extremely hip…” “…Hushed, mournful tones escape from Manricks’ saxophone, working over a gentle piano and bass presence…”


“…Jacám Manricks is a rich-toned saxophonist and composer with a growing body of original tunes…” “…terrifically enthusiastic playing…” “…surprise and delight…” “…Uniformly excellent throughout…” “…tight ensemble playing…” “…inventive variations in rhythm and tempo…” “…a flowing, reflective, piece that showcases Manricks and the rhythm section at their most innovative…” “…Manricks’ sax playing is exceptional here, as is the interplay between Manricks and Calvaire which is held together by Martin’s rock solid bass…” “…Manricks’ fine arrangement is beautifully played and blends well with his own original compositions. Trigonometry establishes Manricks as a writer and player of note.


“Saxophonist/composer Jacam Manricks’ 2009 release “Labyrinth,” looms as a captivating artistic statement. Composed for jazz quintet and chamber orchestra, Manricks conveyed great depth and enveloped quite a few jazz-tinged frameworks into the grand schema. Similar attributes emerge on this 2010 follow-up, featuring some modern-day jazz titans amid an aggregation of cunning developments that reveal additional insights on repeated listens. With this effort, he lays out an intricate mosaic of song-forms, spanning odd-metered funk, breezy choruses, buoyant time signatures and much more. But it’s how he interconnects the various parts that yield the bountiful fruit, to complement the band-members’ luminous and at times, gritty soloing spots. On the wittily titled “Cluster Funk,” the leader incorporates R&B and mainstream jazz with a progressive edge, emphasized by the hornists’ punctuating notes. However, Manricks ability to fuse quirky deviations into the roads frequently traversed provides an exciting element, where organized decomposition attains equal ground with structure. His dense compositional methodologies remain true to form on ballads, evidenced by lush voicings, thrusting crescendos and a little big band impetus during the piece titled “Nucleus.” In other regions of the program, Manricks injects staggered flows and off-kilter metrics to coincide with the ensemble’s blitzing unison lines and memorable hooks. No doubt, Trigonometry is a compelling musical study in divergent angles, rolling waves and supple underpinnings. Manricks is supremely educated — he has a Doctorate in Musical Arts from the Manhattan School of Music as well as a Masters Degree in jazz composition and arranging — and his writing embraces straight-eighth rhythmic feels, often in odd or mixed meters, complex harmonies and angular or serpentine melodies. If you need further proof of Manrick’s jazz-nerd credentials, check out some of his song titles: Trigonometry, Micro- Gravity, Aeronautics, Nucleus, and Labyrinth. The more satisfying disc for me is Labyrinth, which seems a little less like a standard studio session and more like a group of elite musicians (guitarist Ben Monder! drummer Tyshawn Sorey! Pianist Jacob Sacks and bassist Thomas Morgan — both associates of alto saxophone firebrand David Binney) united to realize Manricks’ very detailed but forthright music. The debut CD also has a larger sonic palette, with a larger variety of instruments (Manricks on many woodwinds, Monder manipulating his sound and playing acoustic guitar) and even an orchestra well deployed. Squenced for a gradual release of intensity, Labyrinth eases in listeners with a short overture, Portal, which posits a long quirky unison for Manricks’ alto and Monder’s guitar, against the rumbling, percolating accompaniment. It’s like a statement of purpose, making clear that the disc will sit just to the left of jazz’s modern mainstream. Micro-Gravity begins with a duet for Manricks’s pleasingly tart horn and Monder’s smart, shimmering guitar work. A quasi-martial interlude follows, driven by Sorey’s snare-drum work and swathed in a rich, orchestral backing. Monder and then Manricks take incisive, sophisticated solos over a swirl of swings and horns.”


“…It’s a looser, more conventional disc that has many fine moments…” “…Manricks solos engagingly…” “…music that is pretty first and cerebral second. Mood Swing is a lovely floating ballad. Nucleus is my “…lushly voiced for extra horns…”


“…builds on his fascination with convoluted form….” “…well up to the task…”


“…There is a snap to the music of saxophonist Jacám Manricks’ music that calls to mind the invention of bebop…” “…Without looking backwards, this recording re-invents that atmosphere of bop animation…” “… a stellar cast of players…” “…This is snappy and succinct music with particular direction…” “… a certain swing that pleases…” “…Thelonious Monklike…” “…Manricks’ compositions expand into broad harmonies…” “…The overtly smelly “Cluster Funk” recalls some 1960′s chittlin’ circuit sound updated to a Brooklyn hipsters chant…” “…he displays his flawless technique addressing the track with a fluid manner…”


“…Manricks vaulted into the uppermost echelon of jazz composers with his lushly orchestrated big band masterpiece, Labyrinth, last year. This one reduces the forty-piece orchestra to just a sextet, with hardly any loss of volume, trading sweep and majesty for melody, terseness and a jazz vibe that’s considerably more classic than classical…” “…great success…” “…Manricks buoyant against Calvaire’s aggression…” “…tongue-in-cheek…” “…modallycharged simmer, Manricks bracingly warping in and out…” “…Nucleus makes a big beautiful goldenage style ensemble piece out of a vivid latin-tinged melody a la late 50s Miles…” “…pulsing, shapeshifting…” “…ominous, modal nocturne with masterful touches …expressionistic” “…eerie prismatic glow…” “…ultraviolet ambience …” “…Yet another great new album…”


“…Australian saxist-composer Jacam Manricks presents his brainy yet supple postbop…” “…a very strong band…”


“…The writing skills he displayed on the previous album are in evidence..”. Using trompe l’oreille harmonies, Manricks voices his alto saxophone, Scott Wendholt’s trumpet and Alan Ferber’s trombone to sound like a larger ensemble. “Cluster Funk,” as audacious as its title, is a prime case in point. “…As for Manricks’ own playing, it ranges from heart-on-the-sleeve lyricism in “Mood Swing” to a sort of post-Konitz earnestness in “Slippery” to bounds and leaps reminiscent of Eric Dolphy in, among other pieces, Dolphy’s “Miss Ann.” …”


“…Manricks has a gift for writing compositions that leave lasting impressions…” His somewhat dark “…Manricks’ alto engaging in a bit of Eric Dolphylike dissonance…” “…Throughout the session Manricks demonstrates that he is well on his way to developing a personal sound on alto…” “…Jacam Manricks is proof that the old saying “Those who can’t, teach” does not apply to jazz educators…”


“…What’s clear from the first listen of this record is not so much his chops, which are solid as he amply demonstrates on the Eric Dolphy original “Miss Ann,” but the arrangements of his own compositions which make up the remaining nine tracks…” He’s culled together a collection of crack musicians to back him up on this endeavor: Gary Versace (piano), Alan Ferber (trombone), Joe Martin (bass), Scott Wendholt (trumpet) and Obed Calvaire (drums) and selectively employs the services of his non-rhythm section players to fit each song’s requirements…” “…This three-toseven piece band bring out Manricks’ advanced vision for each tune, showing much poise to not overplay as to not disturb the essence of each tune…” “… Manricks loves to integrate knotty rhythms with naturally flowing melodic lines in such a way that attest his aptitude for scoring pieces for full orchestras, as he’s done in the past…” “…shows off Manricks ability to play off of an elliptical beat, finding the right gaps to place his notes…” “…Manricks slyly inserts rhythmic and Monk-like melodic meanderings that makes the song more interesting below the surface…” “…a bevy of both talent and experience…”

Labyrinth Reviews


“…A composer beyond the confines of genre perception…”
“…evocative…meditative…beautifully contoured …”
“…An impressive collection of pieces from New York based Australian born multi-instrumentalist/professor Jacam Manricks, Labyrinth creeps into your ears with a stealthy sketch, half written, half improvised…”
“…Ben Monder drop-shadows the leaders mellifluous alto as bassist Thomas Morgan tip toes and Jacob Sacks scurries the breadth of the keys…”
“…Gorgeously poised saxophone heralds the martial snare of Tyshawn Sorey, expanding to full chamber palette. The orchestral scope of Manricks’ writing is revealed in this Schoenberg-influenced piece…”
“…Monder gets to crank and Manricks throws some grit into the alto’s upper register…”
“…Manricks’ meditative , concentrated thought process distill in “Rothko”, a twelve tone experiement featuring Monder’s cavernously reverberant guitar set against pointillistic piano…”
“…Greg Osby and Steve Coleman’s mercurial concepts and deployment of ostinatos underpinning challenging melody lines are hinted at…”
“…‘March and Combat’ (is) an ambitious, sectioned piece inspired by Ravel and Gil Evans…”


“…(Jacám Manricks) has become a pre-eminent performer in his trade…”
“…Manricks probes the dynamic relationship between the intimacy of bop and the concert hall furnaces of string-based symphonies. These two components are coupled beautifully through the floating sensations and flowery plumage that drive the track ‘Micro-Gravity’ …”
“…Labyrinth has the sculpted finery of atmospheric jazz, the spiraling staircases of eclectic jazz, and the tangential angles of avant motifs…”
“…Labyrinth is a piece of work that does for jazz what author Walt Whitman did for existentialism, he gives the genre meaning that people can relate to and apply to their own lives…”


“…it is quite rare to find an up-and-coming composer/musician such as Jacám Manricks, who has already developed strong personal compositional skills …”
“…his unique and elaborate compositions reveal a deep knowledge of the jazz bop legacy and modern 20th century music. With an exceptional talent for arranging, his compositions are intelligent and sometimes challenging, defying their exquisite clarity and emotional accessibility…”
“…the opening ‘Portal’ plays with a melody from Claude Debussy’s ‘Syrinx for Flute’, which Manricks—and later Monder—plays beautifully…”
“…’Cloisters’ is another sensitive exploration of angular and rhythmic complex melodies…”
“…The peaceful yet melancholic ‘Aeronautics’ features Manricks’ warm alto sound through carefully built harmonic structures …”
“…’March and Combat’ is a fascinating bolero-like slow waltz …sophisticated melody…”
“… (Manricks) concludes this exceptional release with the sparse ‘Rothko’ … This slow and subtle composition encourages a search deeper into the music…”
“…Manricks is a remarkable composer, and this release is a superb testimony to his capabilities…”


“…The writing displays a vast knowledge of harmony and phrasing, with an ear for stately melodic gesture…”
“…(the record has) this sense of order and attention to detail…”
“… intricate melodies with tight ensemble grooves…”
“…virtuosic solos…”


“…Balancing cerebral rigour with a kind of grave warmth, Australian composer/multi-reedman Manricks forges this singularly successful marriage of classical and jazz ideas…”
“…With an exceptional band – Ben Monder (guitars), Jacob Sacks (piano), Thomas Morgan (bass) and Tyshawn Sorey (drums) – plus, on two tracks, a chamber orchestra, he references Debussy, Schoenberg and Ravel, as well as Gil Evans, creating distinctively personal compositions whose lucid development, despite their complexity, makes them remarkably accessible…”
“…He’s also a very individual, cliche-free soloist…”
“…a compelling assurance that marks Manricks, first and foremost, as a formidable jazz talent…”


“…This week’s award for best undiscovered gem goes to Jacám Manricks, whose quintet disc with an all-star NY crew has knocked me out…”
“…The title track is stunning, sort of M-Base like but slowed down a bit with a great slow-burning sax solo from Jacám…”
“…exquisite yet melancholic ‘Move’ which features a lovely soprano solo from Jacám …”
…Without a doubt this is this week’s greatest discovery…”


“…Elegance is in a word the essence of this wondrous CD project!!…”
“…both a striking and compelling sojourn into jazz and his original musical ideas…”
“…This project is a remarkable testament to the prodigious virtuosity of both Jacám and the bevy of supra-talented musicians he chose for the disc…”
“…We are fortunate to be recipients of Jacám’s vision of music with his extemporized polyphonic original compositions………………And we must revel in it’s artistic self-sufficiency. Encore! Encore!…”


“…Manricks acknowledges the influence of Debussy, Schoenberg, Gil Evans and Ravel, and although they are detectable, Manricks’ originality is more in evidence…”
“…His strings ensembles float the listener…”
“…His harmonic voicings, uses of powerful rhythms and the electronically manipulated textures of Ben Monder’s guitar are among the elements that make ‘March And Combat’ gripping listening…”
“…Conceptual writing also rules the combo tracks“
“… plenty of stimulating soloing by Manricks…”
“…This one came out of the blue. I’m glad that it did…”


“…some of the most brilliant and audacious exchanges of tension and release I’ve heard…”
“…Manricks’ soprano sax is sorrowful and graceful without being overpowering, holding out longer notes with care…”
“…compositions follow smooth, lean grooves and bold, almost painted lines with a sense of fierce unpredictability and flavor…”
“…vivacious and exciting…”
“…Manricks’ work with melodies and counter-melodies is genius…”
“…Manricks is a bold player and composer, brimming with musical adventurousness and feeling. With this free-flowing, almost weightless jazz recording, he has created a Labyrinth well worth meandering through. …”


“…Jacám Manrick’s second album after Sky’s the Limit is as cool and sophisticated as New York…”
“…There is never a dull moment, yet these carefully crafted compositions are compellingly engaging…”
“… This journey has a twist at every corner…”

BY JOHN SHAND, 7/18/2009

“…Jacám Manricks, in many ways epitomises this new wave of jazz writing…”
“…Manricks’ composing demonstrates an astounding ability to make complex music seem breezy to the listener…”


“…Jacám employees a superior quintet and 40-piece chamber orchestra to assist with these enterprising pieces that skirt the fringes of third stream amid the underlying progressive-jazz element…”
“… the compositions, coalesce, intersect and flow within the symphonic-jazz and quintet modes…”
“…No doubt, Manricks is a serious-minded artiste who effectively balances the cerebral elements with a prominently conveyed entertainment factor…”
“…the quintet renders a melange of intricate developments…”
“… the leader of this date stretches out on alto and soprano saxes while softening the pot with textural flutelines during assorted movements…”
“…the musicians generate ample degrees of pop and sizzle, where the orchestra often massages a given chorus or theme…”


“… Jacám Manricks has created a very interesting new recording that features a top-notch ensemble and a group of fascinating compositions…”
“… a work that is complex, subtle and open to interpretation…”
“…Labyrinth” grows on the listener with repeated listenings…”
“…you are likely to be seduced by its beauty, its strength and promise…”
“…they shape their individual voices to the mood and shape of each piece, and how the rhythm section makes the music flow…”


“…Worthy of concert hall performance…”
“…His subject matter is familiar, yet he gives mountain scapes such majesty his shadows and shapes are creating empty space we can feel inside…”
“…To me the feeling is like the feeling in Ansel Adams’ photographs…”

Concert Reviews


The Jacam Manricks Quintet at Smalls Jazz Club,
NYC 5/22/09 May 24, 2009 ·
“…Jacam Manricks has a fluid, fluent approach to the alto sax, but it’s his compositions which are his drawing card – and which may absolutely blow you away. Playing a mix of material mostly from his new cd Labyrinth – recorded with a 40-piece orchestra – the Australian-American composer and his quintet locked in on the songs’ intricate, often epic permutations with intensity and nuance. The bass and drums maintained a sinuous, practically minimalist pulse throughout some awfully tricky changes while pianist Gary Versace colored them with characteristic vividness and frequently outright menace. Perhaps because this was a five-piece playing big band music, the integral nature of the arrangements was especially striking, guitarist Ben Monder completing unfinished piano chords, or Versace doing the same in tandem with the guitar. Sometimes Manricks would do the same in tandem with the bass. Intelligence and imagination lept from the charts with agility and sometimes a wary apprehension.

Aeronautics, a bit of a latin shuffle with sustained, understated, reflective guitar saw Manricks taking a series of fluttery runs through shifting sections of the scale, Versace feeling around for his footing and eventually finding it, rich and ominous. The modal suite Microgravity was a full-scale masterpiece (one can only imagine how lush it sounds with the orchestra on the cd). Manricks opened it brightly, then bass and piano teaming up against guitar and sax, Monder hypnotic and eerie throughout a long series of quavery, reverberating chordal passages that recurred at the end, Versace practically microtonal with his starry, glimmering upper-register work. The cd’s title track, built on a richly melodic, interlocking architecture featured a playful conversation between Versace and the drums. They closed their second set with a new composition, simply titled 2-3-2 with a bouncy, staggered vintage Cuban beat, Manricks warily expansive over some Balkan-inflected changes to an insistent, intensely pulsing crescendo. One can only wonder where someone like Ivo Papasov could take that song. A jazz educator, Manricks doesn’t get the chance to play out as much as he no doubt would like to: if cutting-edge, out-of-the-box stuff is your thing, don’t miss the chance to see him..”
Lucid Culture Concert review



“…There was fabulous, intense, closely responsive playing all round. Original compositions and richly reharmonised standards; long complex melodies and charted bass lines in accompaniment; constantly changing implied chordal movements; simple changes that occasionally emerged amongst the reharms; a buoyant extravagance of improvisation. I heard Jacam’s solos as exploring pitch structure and intervallic options within harmonies in a modern bop-influenced style, comfortable with long eighth-note passages which morphed into 16th-notes on call….”



“…Jacam Manricks breaks the mould by being a star as a composer…. (Manricks) creates sophisticated pieces, some with multiple sections providing different contexts for improvisation, often obliging players to contribute in specific ways to a composition’s shape, rather than just blowing over chord changes. Much more than clever, these pieces take the listener on unfolding journeys….Such juxtapositions were another hallmark of his multi-dimensional composing, whether it was layering tension on lyricism or melodic angularity on a straight groove….If sometimes his sound veered from austere to thin and even shrill, he was still capable of exceptional playing, as on New Bolero, where he daubed coarse-grained, anguished streaks against McAll’s pretty arpeggios…..”
John Shand ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ June 8th 2008.



“…Enter Jacam Manricks – mellow, haunting. His lyricism was remarkable… Manricks introduced the first number of the second set with the warning “don’t try this at home”. Creatively titled Number One, it was a full-blown excursion to the avant-garde – a musical Jackson Pollock on speed. The audience loved it…Manricks always conveys the impression that he knows exactly where he’s heading and what he wants to achieve, but there’s absolutely no loss of spontaneity in the feel. He is clearly a highly skilled musician. His Doctor of Musical Arts, and an impressive record of composition, suggests that his knowledge is deep. His playing, his fellow musicians and his audiences are the fortunate beneficiaries…”
Review by Brenton Holmes October 2007



“…Manricks’s multi-faceted compositions are highly original in their harmonic and rhythmic language, and the complexity obliges the improviser to maintain strict relevance to the setting. As an alto saxophonist he has an austere sound and his improvising had such precision and rigour about it the casual listener could think everything was composed…”
John Shand ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ November 2nd 2006.



“…JM’s band didn’t disappoint. JM’s original compositions were spikey inventions, with big intervals jumping up and down through sinuous melodies, often with syncopated, written rhythm section accompaniment…the sax solos were initially non-legato, and developed into long, atonal flourishes…There was some complex reading and writing demanded of all the players: good and interesting stuff….”
Canberra Jazz Blog November 2006


“… Manricks slowly build(s) his improvisation from a spacious idea into a passionate and screaming declaration….The rhythm section reads Manricks perfectly as he begins his improvisation reflectively, indulging in space and taking his time working the band into a sweltering frenzy on squelching notes, rapid fire melodies, and aggressively interactive playing….Manricks cleverly plays around pieces of the melody before diving headfirst into a stream of bopish ideas that draw an avid response from the rhythm section…..”


This gig was the sole Adelaide appearance of New York based, Brisbane born saxophonist/composer Jacam Manricks’s trio during an Australian/New Zealand tour promoting Manricks’s new album, Cloud Nine. For this tour Manricks brought along Australian bassist Des White, now New York based and US-based German drummer Jochen Rueckert to present a tightly knit, high calibre combo. Their music is highly original and quite unusual, much of it featuring rare time signatures. The opening number On Diva, a fugue-like piece, inspired by a saxophone etude, employed time-bending rhythms of both 10/8 and 11/8. The alto notes flowed gracefully and authoritatively as bass and drums handled the underlying complex rhythms with seeming ease. Rueckert was superb throughout with sticks, mallets, brushes or hand drumming. The trio established a depth of expression, not by fiery playing but by a skilful and cerebral approach that nevertheless conveyed interest, excitement and musical tension aplenty. The only standard of the evening was Jobim’s Luiza given a subdued Latin ballad treatment with Rueckert’s hand, then brush drumming, making a perfect accompaniment as the double bass moved deeply below the alto’s softly poignant lines. The finaleSketch, from a previous album showcased Manricks’s high-speed agility, and featured a knockout drum solo with tricky varying tempos that displayed Rueckert’s percussive virtuosity.


“…It was too short but very sweet. Jacam Manricks visited again from New York. I look forward to his visits. It’s a taste of jazz that I love. Not just in terms of sheer quality, although there’s plenty of that, but there’s a sincerity and commitment that shows in the skills and contorted but flowing sounds. This is intense and busy playing but the ideas flow succinctly and easily. I don’t feel here any clashes of conception, when someone can’t continue a scale to the top register or can’t carry on a sequence or can’t run the chords without a break and so drops into something that doesn’t quite fit. And there’s a strong sense of conversation between players. Maybe crossed but never of cross purposes: diverse, individual statements but easily stringing together. This is wonder to my ears.
Jacam led with his compostions of intricate melodies and unusual time signatures. He’s an intelligent and cerebral composer. Wandina was in 10/8 and based on a sax exercise in some extreme sax key that no-one ever plays. He mentioned Fb minor. Does it even exist? Enharmonic Emin expressed in flats? No matter. The next was Forbidden fruit which has unison bass/sax and a time signature I think I counted as 19/8 split 9-10. Then a Finnish tune which is a standard played at christenings, translated as Friend of children, but having a meaning more like a Higher being looking over a child. This was slower, Nordic, with bass space and mallets. Jacam had arranged and reharmonsied it for his own child, as requested by his Finnish wife. Last was Cloud nine, all easy arpeggios, fluid responsiveness and moves in and out of seductive swing. I admired Jacam’s imbued skills, his ease with all registers, sustained patterns and easy chord transitions: all clear and modern, with awareness of tradition and with no careless atonality. The overall volume surprised me. The whole band played with intensity but with much restraint on the dial. Des’ bass was essentially conversational: that’s the word he used with me after the gig. Rhythmic throbbing in lower positions with occasional ventures to higher and neck positions. Even his solos were more concerned with feel and groove than scalar flair. Very nice and with musical depth. And Jocken was a master. He didn’t seem overly comfortable at this gig, but still this was subtle and vibrant and deceptively busy. I recorded it (with permission, of course) and listening back, I’m surprised by his busy accompaniment. It all looked so restrained on the night. One solo started with just snare and cymbal (and kick, I guess) and intrigued with just dissections of time; then plays with colour over the whole kit; then power and punch.
I don’t do it justice here, but this was subtle and skilled and conversational in the best modern jazz traditions. It was too short, of course, but for the full outing we’ll have to visit Manhattan or maybe 505. There was support, too.
Jacam Manricks (alto sax) led a trio with Des White (bass) and Jochen Ruechert (drums). They were preceded by the Radford College Big Band…”


“…Jacam Manricks is the next big thing in jazz…”

“…Jacam Manricks, alto sax, Gianluca Renzi, bass, Kari Ikonen, paino, and Jussi Lehtonen, drums, at Koko Jazz Club.

Jacam Manricks’s distinctive mastery becomes apparent right from his first breaths. On a more careful listening, it becomes clear that he is one of the greatest talents to emerge from America in a long time.
In fact, Manricks is from Australia and he is part Portuguese and part Sri Lankan. In the early 2000s he moved to the USA, graduated from the top schools, began to play with stars, and developed an unusually interesting vision of jazz.
It seems to emerge from a diverse musical heritage, a lyrical, personal sound, and an impeccable command of compositional theories and structures.
Manricks is not a wild, sweaty performer, but even given Koko’s poor sound system he is able to capture both lyricism and complicated structures together in a thrilling entirety that has more than a hint of something greater.
Manricks has also composed artful pieces for bigger ensembles, making him an excellent choice for UMO’s big concerts.
The whole quartet sounded great in places too, though Manricks’s intense and nuanced performance was occasionally overshadowed by the heavy drumming.
Energetic pianist Kari Ikonen and superb bassist Gianluca Renzi did their part to ensure that the evening was a success…”

Sonic European Sax and Brass Magazine

Here is my translation of a new article about saxophonist Jacam Manricks from the German magazine, Sonic:

“Sound-Forms Frozen in Time”
Jacam Manricks
Jacam Manricks arrived in New York from Down Under shortly before the turmoil of September 11. It was there that his worldview quickly changed, and the music of this saxophonist, clarinetist, flautist, and composer made a quantum leap.
By Ssirus W. Pakzad Translated by Dan Voss
Jacam Manricks is the master of a great art: he makes the complicated sound accessible, and through rhythmic finesse he instills his music with an unobstructed flow. Another of Manricks’ talents: his music is embraced both by those with an ear for the traditional as well as those for whom the term “jazz” means constant progress.
In the isolation of his practice room, this doctor of music concocts new systems and concepts, experimenting with the metrical division of time. As the title of his third and current album, “Trigonometry,” suggests, the Australian likes to use mathematics for emphasis and accent. It would be wrong, however, to think this means his music is coldly intellectual. “The appeal of jazz is in the interaction. Intuition and spontaneity are what makes this music exciting,” says the thirty-five year old, who lectures, teaches, and gives master classes and clinics worldwide. “Composition and improvisation are essentially the same. Composition is improvisation that’s frozen in time. The nice thing about writing is that you can throw something out if it doesn’t work. I often experiment with polyrhythms and hemiola and constantly shift the pulse around. But all of these considerations are worthless if the music that results isn’t able to create a vibe and excite the audience.”
Manricks doesn’t just write music for various jazz instrumentations, but for symphony orchestra as well. Since he has studied orchestration, he even writes out all the parts himself. Do his small-group pieces benefit from his work for large ensembles? “Definitely. You learn how to build to a climax, how to create drama from the nuances of the dynamic spectrum, and how to handle the different registers.”
In addition to all of his hard-earned skill as a composer, one shouldn’t forget that Jacam Manricks is a terrific saxophonist. Indeed, he is a master of the soprano and tenor saxophones—as well as various flutes and clarinets—though his main instrument is the alto saxophone. He plays it with a brilliant and pliant tone that he often bends and stretches, a tone which transforms in the heat of battle and seems to encompass the entire range of human emotions. Whoever hears Manricks live can witness how thoughtfully he builds his solos. He takes striking pauses between longer phrases, then shortens his rests with unmistakable flair until finally they have disappeared entirely, and the saxophonist can whoosh unrestrained through the tonal systems of his own devising. He compares his playing to grammar, with syntax and punctuation being thought of exactly the same way.
Jacam Manricks is originally from Brisbaine, Queensland, where his parents make a living playing together in the state symphony. His birth name, by the way, is derived from the first names of his mother and father together: Ja-net and Cám-ilio. They listened to a lot of jazz as well as classical music at home, and the young boy quickly internalized both styles. Jacam began playing the piano at five years of age and the saxophone at nine. His father, who has Sri Lankan, Portuguese, and Dutch roots, was rather strict when it came to practicing and urged the boy to take on a demanding daily workload. Jacam complied and developed magnificently as a musician, later studying for a degree and then working with a theater orchestra in Sydney. He received a grant and travelled to New York at the end of August 2011 where he was soon playing with some of the most important creative musicians. He had barely gotten over his initial culture shock when those airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center. “At home in Australia I had led a carefree, innocent, naïve life, and then all of a sudden the world fell apart. The events of September 11 changed my whole attitude towards life and my way of seeing things.” When like many others Jacam tried to channel his tumultuous feelings into music, it suddenly manifested unfamiliar dissonances, and thus he gained an insight: “Music is essential for human existence. It’s a way to bring out what engages and occupies us inside our hearts, and it allows us to document and comment on life and the events of history.”

Check him out: