Tony Malaby/Mat Maneri/Daniel Levin - New Artifacts

Label/year: Clean Feed, 2017

Lineup - Tony Malaby: tenor and soprano saxophones; Mat Maneri: viola; Daniel Levin: cello.


This symbiotic musical gathering between saxophonist Tony Malaby, violist Mat Maneri, and cellist Daniel Levin happened at the Three’s Brewer in Brooklyn in August 2015. This collaboration is not so surprising to me, taking into account that the members of this trio are prone to new experiments and alternative sounds.

Comprising four tunes, whose durations range from seven to thirteen minutes, New Artifacts opens with the title track, a fearless exploration of tones and textures in an innuendo of avant-jazz meets modern classical. Whether jarring or idyllic, the soundscapes are vast and sumptuous, yet the communication remains focused and alert. Despite occasional escapades, Maneri and Levin are in consonance for the most part of the time, leaving the unrestricted Malaby discoursing via tenor phrases mounted with a wide variety of timbres.

The saxophonist makes use of the soprano for “Creation Story” in which he embarks on a dissonant dialogue with Maneri. They speak frankly and only intermittently reach an agreement. At some point, Levin increases the rhythm by tapping the cello and plucking the strings to make it sound like a bass. The sounds of the instruments blend so thoroughly that sometimes it’s difficult to tell who’s playing what. The tune ends with Malaby’s high-pitched whistles over percussive sounds.

Open and atmospheric, “Freedom From the Known” starts by testing the waters through minimalistic fluctuations in order to gradually compose a wide and complex scene. Here, Maneri influences the mood by contrasting sad melodies with rugged tones.
In opposition to the previous compositions, “Joe” hauls us into a spooky musical setting, forcing us to traverse multiple obscure dimensions.

Highly conceptual, New Artifacts is everything but an easy listening and even staunch avant-gardists will have a challenge here. If you’re sufficiently courageous as a listener, go ahead and try to capture the richness of these triangular propagations.

         Grade  B+

         Grade B+

Favorite Tracks:
03 – Freedom From the Known ► 04 – Joe