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January/February 2003

Maneri Ensemble
Going to Church
AUM Fidelity

Mat Maneri managed to pull bassist Barre Phillips across the Atlantic for the Joe Maneri Quartet's 2000 tour. Having Phillips in the States isn't a common thing, and so, recognizing the rarity for what it was, the younger Maneri turned a few idle days in NYC into an opportunity to record. For the session that would produce Going to Church, Maneri also invited pianist Matthew Shipp and trumpeter Roy Campbell to sit in with the quartet.

The addition of the two new guys changes the sound of Mat Maneri's group considerably. Shipp's light touch, quiet chords and dolorous low notes give vertebrae to the group's liquid sound-a setting that inspires Maneri to some of his most lyrical playing. Within the group, each player shows a great deal of respect and restraint-a largely selfless, reverent vibe that inspired the title of the recording. Plenty of space is afforded each player and each in turn finds ways to assume complementary roles. Players often sit out for long stretches, allowing the group to break down into component parts, which, especially on the long and occasionally turbulent opening number, "Blood and Body," allows for radical shifts in mood and sound.

A far more even mood is set on the instantly attractive "Before the Sermon." On this, the quietest and gentlest of the selections, the group's slow, mournful improv assumes an almost balladlike cast.

Originally published in January/February 2003
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