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Audiophile Audition’s write-up for Sarah Manning “Dandelion Clock”….

Sarah Manning – Dandelion Clock – Posi-Tone

In discovering her own voice in Jazz, Sarah Manning follows an unorthodox approach to expression.

Published on May 04, 2010

(Sarah Manning, alto saxophone; Art Hirahara, piano; Linda Oh, bass; Kyle Struve, drums)

Sarah Manning has taken an artistic journey across the country. Educated in elite East Coast music programs, she would study directly under the tutelage of Dr. Yusef Lateef. There she learned the valuable and inspirational lesson….find your own musical voice! Manning became a fixture on the West Coast scene, recording two critically received albums and developed as a performer in the Bay Area jazz clubs.

With the release of Dandelion Clock, Manning has taken another step in developing a unique sound. With a mixture of dissonant and melodic phrasing, this ambitious album boasts seven original compositions among its nine tracks. Opening with the haunting and piercing “The Peacocks,” the listener is struck by the post-bop melody. “Habersham Street,” on the other hand, creates a harmonic and slow-tempo flow, accentuated by a smooth interplay between saxophone and piano. “Crossing and Waiting” has the Quartet exploring a Middle Eastern sound, with a strenuous bass line. “Marble” shines a cool light on a waltz-time swing, allowing a smart and concussive piano solo. An improvisational opening to the Michel Legrand classic, “Windmills Of Your Mind,” is transformed into a resonant and versatile lead by Manning. Of additional interest is the highly stylized track, “The Owls,” framed in a march rhythm, but allowing for extended improvisation.

With a combination of edginess and harmonic structure, Dandelion Clock gives a snapshot of a musician on a very personal and musical revelation.

TrackList: The Peacocks; Marble; Habersham Street; I Tell Time By The Dandelion Clock: Crossing ,Waiting: The Owls (Are On The March): Through The Keyhole; Phoenix Song; The Windmills of Your Mind

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The next AAJ review for Sarah Manning “Dandelion Clock”….

Dandelion Clock
Sarah Manning | Posi-Tone Records (2010)

By Dan Bilawsky

Abstraction and accessibility isn’t an easy match, but alto saxophonist Sarah Manning weds the two with fine results on Dandelion Clock. Manning’s desire to create “a working, stable group that through rehearsals and philosophy lives and breathes on stage as a musical unit,” is largely achieved with this quartet, featuring bassist Linda Oh, pianist Art Hirahara and drummer Kyle Struve.

These players aren’t content to just play time or deliver, bland cliché-ridden music. While Manning bookends the album with two classics—starting with Jimmy Rowles’ “The Peacocks” and ending with Michel Legrand’s “The Windmills Of Your Mind”—her conception of these pieces marks her as a restless musical explorer and creative small group arranger. Her delivery of the melody on “The Peacocks” introduces a sound that, while controlled, has a slightly tart and edgy sound to it. Some saxophone phrases end with fluttery sendoffs and Hirahara pushes a bit, but then holds back, during a compelling piano solo. All the while, the rhythm section creates a loose, rumbling musical underbelly. “The Windmills Of Your Mind” takes shape with Manning and Oh beginning the piece. The music seems to be reverse-engineered and the pieces are put together and stabilized by Hirahara and Struve. Manning’s take on this song contains more thrust than most, bringing something new to both of these well-worn pieces.

The remaining seven songs—Manning’s compositions all—are no less original. When “Habersham Street” begins, it sounds like it could have been a long lost relative of Billy Strayhorn’s “Blood Count,” but this doesn’t last too long. The band picks up steam when Hirahara solos, and a saxophone cadenza closes out the song. The ticking of the clock on “I Tell Time By The Dandelion Clock” is represented by Struve’s steady clicking and some repetitive, ominous bass and piano motifs that come and go.

Oh’s steady rhythm introduces “Crossing, Waiting,” as Manning delivers a melody filled with mystery and paranoia, leading to Oh taking control with an exhilarating solo. Manning returns with a slightly more angular and rough sound, while Struve takes over for an unaccompanied solo. Struve and Oh create a doom-laden cadence on “The Owls (Are On The March)” features a unique rhythmic structure that allows the music to briefly morph into swing and then a Latin-esque groove, with Hirahara delivering his wildest and most unruly playing on the album. The highlight on “Phoenix Song” is the interplay and exchanges between Manning and Struve. Manning solos, with only drums beneath her, and then removes herself, allowing Struve to wreak some havoc.

Manning’s writing and playing, along with the singular, organic nature of this quartet, makes Dandelion Clock a winning listen from beginning to end.

Track listing: The Peacocks; Marble; Habersham Street; I Tell Time By The Dandelion Clock; Crossing, Waiting; The Owls (Are On The March); Through The Keyhole; Phoenix Song; The WIndmills Of Your Mind.

Personnel: Sarah Manning: alto saxophone; Art Hirahara: piano; Linda Oh: bass; Kyle Struve: drums.

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The first review for Sarah Manning “Dandelion Clock”…..

Dandelion Clock
Sarah Manning | Posi-Tone Records (2010)

By John Barron

In the midst of the college-bred blandness of saxophonists posturing for position on the jazz stage with technique to spare and a full store of generic ideas, stand a few risk takers who don’t seem to be the least bit concerned with tired jam session worthiness. Such an artist is alto saxophonist Sarah Manning whose third release as a leader, Dandelion Clock, is a contemplative set of compositional depth and flexible ensemble interplay.

Manning, a Brooklyn resident who spent a few fruitful years on the West Coast, is joined by her current band of pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Linda Oh and drummer Kyle Struve. The quartet sets a free-flowing, wherever-the-wind-may-take-us mood with “The Peacocks,” an animated waltz written by the late pianist Jimmy Rowles. Manning’s stark tone is stinging and bold, a delightful combination of Jackie Mclean and Johnny Hodges. She dances through the melody and subsequent solo with vitality and warmth; inviting yet somewhat pleasingly on edge. Equally enticing moments are heard on the saxophonist’s extended solo cadenza on “Habersham Street,” and the angular back and forth with bassist Oh on “Crossing, Waiting.” Indeed, Oh plays a significant role in shaping the group’s sound, incorporating a throbbing sound and tireless drive.

The quirky, unpredictable flow of “The Owls (Are On the March)” is a disc highlight. The tune features an outstanding burst of creativity from pianist Hirahara with drummer Struve in-toe with rhythmic intuitiveness. The disc ends in dramatic flair with Michel Legrand’s “The Windmills of Your Mind.” The opening duet between Manning and Oh sets up a sweeping crescendo with Hirahara and Struve sneaking their way into a declamatory session-ending finish.

Track listing: The Peacocks; Marble; Habersham Street; I Tell Time By the Dandelion Clock; Crossing, Waiting; The Owls (Are on the March); Through the Keyhole; Phoenix Song; The Windmills of Your Mind.

Personnel: Sarah Manning: alto saxophone; Art Hirahara: piano; Linda Oh: bass; Kyle Struve: drums.