Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sarah Manning - Harmonious Creature (Posi-Tone, 2014)

Sarah Manning is an alto saxophonist and composer, whose new album, Harmonious Creature features her in the company of Eyvind Kang on viola, Jonathan Goldberger on guitar, Rene Hart on bass and Jerome Jennings on drums. The album was recorded in Brooklyn about one year ago and consists of several original compositions, and some interesting covers, particularly “On The Beach,” the title track of one of Neil Young’s finest and most neglected albums. Under Manning’s control, the song is alternatively brooding and scalding, allowing the musicians to really stretch out and play with a lot of room for textural development. Some of the tracks develop a dreamy feel like the Gillian Welch and David Rawlings country folk song “I Dream A Highway” and the opening original song “Copeland on Cornelia Street.” where the circular patterns for band members slowly evolve into improvised sections. “Floating Bridge” heads in the opposite direction developing an aggressive attack for three short inspiring minutes. “Don’t Answer the Question” engages the full band in developing a fast and potent theme and then sparking off improvised sections from it. The use of viola and guitar on the album offer a larger range of emotions to draw from and Manning succeeds admirably as a composer and arranger in developing her musical vision to match the instrumentation and the players. Harmonious Creature -

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