The Blue Series from Thirsty Ear Recordings is significant not just for its wholly improvised jazz and high-energy blowing, but for its intent to even out uncertainties in the avant-garde and free jazz dimensions. Blue Decco, the series' third release and debut for the Mat Maneri Quartet is, in some ways, a homage to the multi-talented Eric Dolphy, a premier influence on the violinist. However, the CD is also an accomplishment for Mat Maneri in that writing for piano, a talent rarely utilized in his five previous works as a leader, is now a challenge that has been duly met. Along with Craig Taborn on piano, William Parker on bass, and Gerald Cleaver on drums, Mat Maneri achieves musical certainty through his palette of instruments within the violin family by incorporating classic '60s jazz into his jazz visions on eight compositions, four of which he wrote. Mat Maneri plays a haunting five-string viola, a six-string electric violin, and a baritone violin on such songs as "Blue Decco," "Blue Sun," "The New Lord's Prayer," and "Mute." This cooperative quartet has a great way of arranging melodies and fusing them with thoughtful aspects of free improvisations and, in turn, evens out some of the uncertainties imminent along the listener's quest through free and avant-garde jazz terrain.
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AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein