‘Crisis & Opportunity, Vol. 1 – London’ marks the new project from drummer and composer, Myele Manzanza, released through DeepMatter Records.
Manzanza has always had a naturally strategic approach to his music that allows his projects to straddle these exciting grey areas between jazz and electronic music. While his debut album ‘One’ (BBE, 2013) was more a celebration of a broken beat aesthetic, his breakthrough project ‘A Love Requited’ (First Word, 2019) made those electronic influences perhaps that little more subtle allowing the accompanying remix EP, released later that year, to further develop on the groundwork Manzanza had laid out. Remixes by Theo Parrish, Mark de Clive-Lowe and Darkhouse Family masterfully showcased the duality attached to Manzanza’s compositions that have secured him as an indelible talent within today’s thriving jazz scene.
And for the New Zealander who has made London his new home, Manzanza’s tour of the city’s revered label homes continues from BBE to First Word and now to the often unsung roster of DeepMatter. With a stunning line-up of projects in the last few years with albums having been released by PYJÆN (‘PYJÆN’) and Simon Jefferis (‘Vibrations’), the awesome roster of DeepMatter now finds itself bolstered with the addition of the first of Manzanza’s projected ‘Crisis & Opportunity’ series.
Myele Manzanza projects have always benefitted from the inclusion of some fantastic names and musicians – from the producers attached to the aforementioned ‘A Love Requited Remixes EP’, to the ‘A Love Requited’ album having been produced by celebrated bassist, Ross McHenry, to the frequent collaborations with Mark de Clive-Lowe… Forming the basis of Manzanza’s collective for ‘Crisis & Opportunity’ is a line-up no less impressive – trumpeter James Copus (Jorja Smith, Jacob Collier), saxophonist George Crowley (Yazz Ahmed, Resolution 88) and bassist Benjamin Muralt (True, Clapophonic). One of the brightest stars in the UK, pianist Ashley Henry, marks an exciting inclusion within the ensemble as does Mark de Clive-Lowe whose work on synths does wonders to the overall aesthetic of the tracks presented here.
‘Portobello Superhero’, as an example, soars amidst the EP’s five tracks – already a track boasting dare-you-to-sit-still energy, Manzaza’s rapid-fire drums fit so snugly around this meticulous chaos (a comment intended as nothing but the highest of compliments!) that the song’s eight minutes and twenty-seven seconds just don’t seem enough. ‘London’ delivers as another highlight as Henry’s piano elegantly skips alongside Manzanza’s drums aided by the ambience of Clive-Lowe transporting you to somewhere ethereal.
As is now becoming true to form for Myele Manzanza, his efforts have delivered results in the highest of forms.