I have often compared the work of a jazz critic/advocate as to that of a musical prospector. Hours are spent searching and more importantly listening for those special artists that can rise to the occasion with a new and exciting musical voice. Jacam ManRicks and Trigonometry are the perfect example of time and effort well spent.
For the uninitiated trigonometry is :
A branch of mathematics that studies triangles and the corresponding relationships between their side and the angles between these sides. The core of trigonometic functions describes those relationships that are applicable to certain cyclical phenomena such as waves.
Mathematics and sound waves are the very core of the fundamental music of improvisation referred to more commonly as jazz. While making the connection may seem the long way around the proverbial bush, the end result remains true.
Manricks possesses a full bodied tone with a fluid yet bop infused recording that the supporting cast seem to embrace with an enthusiastic approach to some incredibly inventive original compositions. The end result is one of attempting to figure out where the next wave of sound may be coming next.
“Trigonometry” showcases a first call rhythm section with Obed Calvaire on drums along with Gary Versace on piano and Joe Martin holding down the bass chair. The ability of this rhythm section to work seamlessly with the front line horn section is nothing short of amazing. This is a sextet on point every step of the way. “Cluster Funk” is exactly what the title implies, a strong group of musicians playing with flavor and tenacity for the more old school funk sound of early Blue Note or Impulse recordings. ”Micro Gravity” takes the improvisational chops of this ensemble to the next level while maintaining a lyrical sense of purpose and a harmonic reflective mood rarely captured as well. Manricks finest composition to date but then again taste is subjective. Eric Dophy’s “Miss Ann” is an incredible showcase for both the rhythm section and the interaction between Manricks and this tight knit ensemble.
While I struggled to pass Trigonometry and school and did so primarily by complimenting the teacher to make up for my lack of conceptual understanding, Manricks gets an A+!