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Transylvanian Folksongs by Lucian Ban, John Surman and Mat Maneri was an important part of the folk tradition strand of our Jazzfest Berlin last edition in November. As I was not able to attend the concert then at Kaiser Wilhelm Memory Church, I was glad of getting a second chance in Münster. It was a projective re-creation of the ‘retrojective’ field recordings and transcriptions of composer Bela Bartók. It couldn’t be expected a balkanised form of jazz. It revealed as the unfolding of song lines from a remote past inscribed in an airy layer stretching above the soil of a virtual ground.



The interplay between John Surman on bass clarinet and soprano sax and Mat Maneri was one of deep mutual understanding and careful meshing and confluence – confluence not in the temperate way, though, but more rubato, in mindful slowness gliding along microtonal fringes and edges. Thus both musicians created an intriguing collaborative working interim between the deep sources and the breath of the stage moment, all provided and sustained by Ban’s bedding of sparse melodic hints and falling rhythmic impulses.


The act of bringing in the distant sources manifested itself prismatically in the musicians‘ progressively unfolding flow of playing,  sharpening and deepening the listening experience as well as the bond with the listeners and their absorption in the music. In that process the music covered a considerable distance of transmission from its oral origins via Bartok’s recording and documentation to today’s realities of experience, to ‘reading’ and re-creation in the presence.

This procedure created an imaginative space to be acted out, getting enriched and projected into further momentum full of soulfulness and empathy. It transcended simple sentimentality and bathing in nostalgia. Mat Maneri and John Surman were in top form and Lucian Ban made them shine, especially in the touching “Violin Song”.  


Seen at International Jazzfestival Münster 2023

2014 7 Okt

Brügge, zwei Tage mit Ban und Maneri

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das Reale am Surrealen, das Surreale am Realen …
Das Bekannte im Unbekanntem …
Das Unbekannte im Bekannten …

2013 1 Dez

Radio ON DEMAND Dezember #2

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another program/noch ein Programm ON DEMAND

mit: Mat Maneri, Lucian Ban, Robin Williamson, Barre Phillips, Ale Möller





„The Transylvanian Concert“ ist der Titel der CD des Duos – das der aus Rumänien stammende, jetzt in New York lebende Pianist Lucian Ban und der die Bratsche spielende Mat Maneri jetzt herausgegeben haben. Sie beide traten in einem sog. „Kulturpalast“ auf, nicht weit von dem Ort entfernt, wo Lucian Ban aufwuchs und Bartok seine intensiven Nachforschungen zur alten Folklore des Landes betrieb. Beides klingt durch, alte Klänge der ersten Heimat, zugleich aber auch, und immer wieder, kurze Anspielungen berühmter alter Jazzsongs, oft nur für Sekunden, und fernab standardisierter Standards.

Die Räume der Kindheit müssen ihre Dämmerung behalten, schrieb der französische Philosoph Gaston Bachelard in seinem Buch „Poetik des Raumes“, und etwas von diesen nie vollständig ausgeleuchteten, nie ganz fassbaren Kindheitsräumen suggeriert auch das Cover der Cd: eine von der Nacht immer mehr eingenommene Grenze zum Wald, gerade noch erkennt man die Schemen zweier Tiere am Waldrand, eine Spur von Grün, das auch rasch verschwinden wird. Musik aus dieser hinreissenden Darbietung gibt es in meiner Ausgabe der JazzFacts am 6. Endlich mal wieder ein Cover von ECM, das etwas vom Geist (und den Geistern) der Musik enthüllt!


© FoBo–Henning Bolte ©  Brooklyn, 7th Av.

© FoBo–Henning Bolte © Brooklyn, 7th Av.


18.März: für ein paar Tage in Brooklyn, 11th Street, 4th Avenue, die Gegend um Park Slope im nordwestlichen Bereich des Stadtteils. Viele Musiker sind hier zuhause und eine Reihe von wichtigen Podien wie Barbés, Korzo, Shape Shifter, Roulette sind in nächster Nähe zu finden. Hauptanlass der Reise: das Paul Motian Tribute-Konzert im Symphony Space am 22.März, organisiert von Bill Frisell, Joseph Lovano und Hans Wendl. Drumherum Gespräche, Freunde, Spazieren, Flanieren, Musik.

Als erstes treffe ich den rumänischen Pianisten Lucian Ban und den Violinisten Mat Maneri. Beide haben sich bei Enescu Re-Imagined kennengelernt, einer Arbeit von Ban und dem rührigen Bassisten John Hébert. Ban und Maneri bilden seitdem ein Duo. Von dem Duo erscheint im Mai bei ECM das Live-Album Transylvanian Concert, aufgenommen im 1904 erbauten Kulturpalast von Targu Mures mit seiner eindrucksvollen Akustik. Abends dann ins Cornelia Street Café im Village beim Washinghton Square. Ein paar Kontakte treffen und einem Konzert des jungen Trompeters Mat Holman beiwohnen, der auch Mitglied der Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society ist.

Tags drauf eine kurze Verabredung mit dem jungen kubanischen Pianisten Aruan Ortiz, der im April in meiner Reihe Amsonanza im Duo mit der Saxofonistin Tineke Postma auftreten wird. Und am Nachmittag ein Treff mit dem legendären Pianisten Masabumi Kikuchi. Tja, und abends ein Auftritt von Warp-Musiker Tyondai Braxton im Guggenheim Museum. Ja, der Sohn von.

Am Freitag dann das Hauptereignis in Manhattan. Im Symphony Space am Broadway, 95th Street, der Paul Motian Tribute. Am Samstag vor der Rückreise schliesslich noch ein Treff in der Brooklyner Nachbarschaft.

Today meeting Lucian Ban and Mat Maneri at Barbès, a small bar and well-known venue (French style) in the South Slope area of Brooklyn (376, 9th Street, 6th Av.). It is run by two French musicians from Brooklyn. Meanwhile a well known music-place, meeting-point for musicians and connoisseurs. Programming and line-ups are impressive.
Lucian & Mat
Lucian Ban is a pianist from Romania who has been living and working in New York for the last ten years. Together with bassist John Hébert (from New Orleans) he set up Enescu Re-Imagined (2009), a work on famous Romanian composer, conductor and pianist George Enescu (1881-1955), teacher of great violinist Menuhin. Line-up for this work: trumpeter Ralph Alessi, saxophonist Tony Malaby, violinists Mat Maneri and Albrecht Maurer, percussionists Gerald Cleaver and Badal Roy together with Ban and Hébert (VIDEO)
Mat Maneri is one of the finest musicians around and a very special violin-player who participated in many (many!) groups, a.o. groups of Paul Motian. We met earlier when I was involved in organizing a tour of Joel Harrison’s String-Choir Playing Music Of Paul Motian (HERE as one of my RADIO ON DEMAND programs).

Ban and Maneri met through this work and discovered their mutual musical rapport from which their steady duo-work emerged. It is the deep and dark sonance of Ban’s voice, its shadowy quality which gives way to Maneri wrapping his violin-sounds with all it’s microtonal colorings and multiphonics around conjuring up spiritual sentiments.

Mat is sitting in front of Colson Patisserie next to Barbès when I arrive at 4 p.m.. It turned out Barbès will not be open before 5 p.m.. So we took a delicious espresso at Colson and moved to another place in fine style nearby together with arriving Lucian for the interview.

ECM will in may release Transylvanian Concert, a live-recording of the duo made in the hundred year old Grand Theatre of Targu Nures with its extraordinary acoustics, an album produced by Steve Lake and Lucian Ban. This interview was somewhat special, special in preparation. First for weeks we did lots of efforts to set up a release-concert in Amsterdam fitting in the duo’s European may-tour and my Amsonanza-series. The music was not available then. I received it shortly before I left to New York.

There was a lot of common ground nonetheless and we could finally dig into musical issues easily and intensively. We touched upon and revolved around issues as spirituals, religiousness, folkmusic sources, Mal Waldron, avantgarde, musical solidity, African roots, cultural determination and universality, beauty of sound. It will all be revealed in a later article in may when the upcoming album will have been released. One exception, the Birthday Party Question: which person not alive anymore would you like to invite to join your birthday-party? Here it is for Lucian Ban: Thelonius Monk, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Joe Maneri. And here it is for Mat Maneri: Joe Maneri, Charlie Chaplin, St. Francis of Assisi. Heavy gathering? Lucky company? Meeting of minds? Rich perspectives!
Tour may

11th Cologne – Altes Pfandhaus w/Albrecht Maurer, vln
12 Berlin – A-Trane w/Albrecht Maurer, vln
14 Bucharest – Odeon Theatre w/Evan Parker, sax
16 Ploiesti – Toma Caregiu Theatre
21 London – Vortex
22 Derby – Voice Box w/Corey Mwamba, perc, electr.
23 Newcastle – Recital Hall
24 Wuppertal – tba w/Albrecht Maurer, vln
25 Bergneustadt – tba w/Albrecht Maurer, vln
27 Vienna – Porgy&Bess
28 München – Unterfahrt
29 Deutsch – Minihof – Limmitationes (A)

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