A PhD jazz educator, Australia reared woodwind artist and composer, Jacam Manricks calls New York City home. On this 2009 release, he employees a superior quintet and 40-piece chamber orchestra to assist with these enterprising pieces that skirt the fringes of third stream amid the underlying progressive-jazz element.
Manricks uses a variety of woodwind instruments and executes a minor variation from Claude Debussy’s "Syrinx for Flute," on the opening piece "Portal." Yet the compositions, coalesce, intersect and flow within the symphonic-jazz and quintet modes. Several passages contain dark and moody theme-building maneuvers to complement contrasting melody lines and up-tempo jazz metrics. No doubt, Manricks is a serious-minded artiste who effectively balances the cerebral elements with a prominently conveyed entertainment factor.
Featuring complex unison breakouts, the quintet renders a mélange of intricate developments, accelerated by guitarist Ben Monder’s soaring solo on "Cloisters," inspired by the castle bearing the same name in northern Manhattan. However, the leader of this date stretches out on alto and soprano saxes while softening the pot with textural flute lines during assorted movements. And the musicians generate ample degrees of pop and sizzle, where the orchestra often massages a given chorus or theme. They also temper the undercurrents and take the edge off. But it’s all nicely articulated, as Manricks' dense frameworks spawn gobs of interest via a web of intriguing propositions. - Glenn Astarita