Jacam Manricks ‘Samadhi’
Jacam Manricks – alto, tenor & soprano saxophones, clarinet and bass clarinet, flute and alto flute, midi strings
Joe Gilman – piano
Matt Penman – bass
Clarence Penn – drums
Recorded by Jacam Manricks, Stephen Bingen & Tim Metz
Mixed by Jacam Manricks and Mark Allen-Piccolo
Mastered by Mark Allen-Piccolo
Produced by Jacam Manricks for MMR (put this on separate line)
Graphic Design by Sean Roy
Photography Ken Hunt-Whole Earth Images & Elle Jaye
Recorded Jan 27th and 28th 2018 at Manricks Music Records, California
1-Formula One 8.13
2-New Years Day 8.21
4-Common Tone 5.53
7-Day to Day 8.18
All compositions by Jacam Manricks except ‘Ethereal’ by Jacam Manricks &
ABOUT THE MUSIC:
Since relocating to Sacramento in 2014, Manricks has built a home studio and intensively studied the art of sound engineering. With New York compatriots Clarence Penn on drums and Matt Penman on bass, and Sacramento pianist Joe Gilman, Samadhidoesn’t just feature his original compositions and arrangements. Manricks produced, recorded, engineered, and mixed the project, while also writing and creating the gorgeous orchestrations that expand the instrumental palette on several tracks. It’s the fullest view yet of a resourceful and vividly imaginative composer also known for working in orchestral and chamber music settings.
“This is the culmination of a lot of things for me, and I’m extremely proud of Samadhi,” Manricks says. “I’m wearing so many hats. I’m the main soloist. I’m writing and orchestrating all the music, with all of the woodwind and string overdubs. I’m producing and mixing the music. I couldn’t have found better guys to take this step with me.”
The sound quality on Samadhi is exemplary, but what makes all the hats Manricks is wearing so impressive is that they effectively complement his bespoke music, which is tailored to the particular gifts and talents of his collaborators. Born and raised in Australia, he shares Southern Hemispheric origins with Penman, a New Zealander who’s been at the center of the New York scene for more than two decades.
“When I met Matt at the 55 Bar we hit it off talking about cricket,” Manricks says. “We’d been trying to play for a while but he’s so busy. I had checked out his playing and knew he and Clarence would be a great team.”
On a New York scene overflowing with trap set wizards, Penn has distinguished himself on hundreds of albums as an invaluable accompanist. Ever since Manricks hired him for a tour of Canada, he’d been looking for a chance to regroup with Penn, “an extremely musical drummer. He has a wide spectrum of dynamics. He and Matt came out and we did this little tour and recorded the album at the end of it. There’s no better way to prep for a recording than to first try the music out in front of an audience.”
Gilman is Manricks’s closest musical associate in Sacramento. The pianist was a mainstay on the Bay Area scene before he relocated to California’s capital, and he spent a decade performing around the world with Bobby Hutcherson during the last decade of the vibraphone legend’s life. Put in touch with each other by Matt Wilson, they’ve forged a deep musical bond documented on the gorgeous 2017 duo album GilManricks, the first project the saxophonist recorded in his studio.
A much more elaborate undertaking, Samadhi opens with the fleet “Formula One,” a bobbing and weaving theme that generates momentum and tension over a staggering back beat. Gilman’s elegant two-handed solo bridges the first and second sections, and when Manricks returns the pulse slows as his lyrical alto builds to a sumptuous climax caressed by subtle strings, two clarinets, and two flutes.
Featuring Manricks on soprano sax, “New Year’s Day” is a seemingly simple theme that offers an array of harmonic possibilities. As he wends his way through the piece, the track showcases Penman’s poised melodicism and Penn’s exquisite dynamic control at the rising climax. The title track offers another view of Manricks’s unabashed lyricism with a breathtaking rubato piece that’s not so much a ballad as a prayer. As direct and unadorned as a folk song, “Samadhi” evokes an inner journey even as the melody reaches upward to the heavens.
“Common-Tone” is a gracefully sculpted piece that feels like a conversation among equals, exemplifying symmetry and balance with plenty of room to breathe between phrases. “Schmaltz” attains a different kind of balance as it rides a series of funk-powered 13-beat rhythmic cycles. Manricks thickens the greasy texture into a delectable repast with woodwinds and strings expanding the instrumentation.
The album ends in a reflective mood. With its heartbeat pulse and descending melody, “Day to Day” features Manricks on tenor sax accompanied by a clarinet quintet. It’s a striking piece of chamber jazz that inspires a particularly evocative Gilman solo. The closing track is the aptly titled “Ethereal,” a piano/soprano sax duet written with Gilman that’s something of a hat tip to Jan Garbarek’s classic 1981 ECM album Folk Songs with Charlie Haden and Egberto Gismonti. In many ways the piece serves as a bridge between the duo’s previous album GilManricks and all the new territory he’s opened up in the interim.
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