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RIP Joe Maneri

August 26, 2009

| Image by reports that reedsman and educator Joe Maneri died Aug. 24. He was 82.

Maneri was best known for his interest in and dedicated use of microtones (simplistically put, the notes between the usual do-re-mi notes of the standard scale) in his playing and composing, though his music also included beguiling strains of free jazz, Mediterranean Basin ethnic sounds, and 20th-century European composition. A relatively obscure figure, even at the peak of his renown, he spent most of his career away from the bandstand and recording studio as he schooled, a couple of generations of jazz musicians at the New England Conservatory, where he was on the faculty for decades. In 1990s, he was suddenly (re)discovered and embraced by avant-jazz heads and went on to record a number of fine albums for esteemed labels such as ECM, Hat Hut, and Leo, often in collaboration with his violinist son Mat.

Despite the modest vogue for his music in recent years, Joe Maneri remained mostly heard of, rather than heard. Perhaps the imminent slew of small obituaries like this will inspire people to track down a copy of, say, Three Men Walking and give him a listen.