Primary Instrument: Saxophone
According to famed jazz writer Nat Hentoff, alto saxophonist and composer Sarah Manning can swing as naturally as she breathes--an enlivening presence in the new generation of jazz makers. Manning plays--and writes--in what is unmistakably her own voice. Her singular dedication to developing that voice distinguishes her from her peers, and illuminates a path rife with intrigue.
Originally from New England and now a Brooklyn resident, Manning immersed herself in jazz at a young age, playing in the combo at Hartford's Artist Collective as a high school junior, a school founded by the great saxophonist Jackie McLean. McLean covered his ears in mock horror at her purposely-dissonant arranging debut, but encouraged the teen and she kept writing. A full scholarship at Interlochen Arts Academy for her senior year in high school led to her acceptance into the Jazz Studies Program at William Paterson College, directed by bassist Rufus Reid. In search of an interdisciplinary education, she left William Paterson after two years and got her degree in Women’s Studies from Smith College in Massachusetts. It was in Massachusetts that she was able to study with Dr. Yusef Lateef, whose emphasis on searching for one’s own voice in music gave her the courage to pursue her own path.
That path took her to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2002. While living on the West Coast, Manning produced two albums as a composer and bandleader and performed at top venues from Yoshi’s in Oakland to the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz. Her first release, House on Eddy Street (2004), is a critically acclaimed album of her compositions with Randy Porter (piano), John Wiitala (bass), and Akira Tana (drums). In April 2005's JazzTimes, David Franklin observed, Sounding like no one but herself, she possesses a well-focused, slightly edgy tone that suits equally her firmly swinging, uptempo postbop excursions and her highly melodic slow-tempo explorations. KCSM DJ Michael Burman named it number five in his list of the top ten new releases of 2004. Her second album, Live at Yoshi's: Two Rooms Same Door, was released on ArtistShare in 2006 and features seven new compositions performed by the same quartet.
In 2010, Manning's current band will be releasing their debut on Posi-Tone Records. Featuring Art Hirahara on piano, Linda Oh on bass and Kyle Struve on drums, Shatter the Glass is bent on achieving that elusive goal in today's jazz world--a working, stable group that through rehearsals and philosophy lives and breathes on stage as a musical unit. Shatter the Glass is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit arts service organization. Through performances and advocacy, Shatter the Glass seeks to provide a strong role model of a woman-led group in the male dominated jazz industry, encourage participation in jazz by women and girls, and bring the music to a wider demographic through a transparent look at a working ensemble and presentations in non-traditional venues. Explosive musical storytellers, Shatter the Glass testifies to the power of jazz to break down barriers.
”Sarah Manning can swing as naturally as she breathes--an enlivening presence in the new generation of jazz makers” --Nat Hentoff, liner notes for HOUSE ON EDDY STREET
”After more than 40 years of both performing and presenting jazz, it's very unusual and a genuine treat to hear music that's truly unique. This music represents jazz that somehow manages to move beyond typical post-bop elements.” --Bud Spangler, Grammy nominated producer
”...compelling new voice, marked by a big, bracing sound and a knack for delivering angular phrases with graceful precision” --Andrew Gilbert, Contra Costa Times
”Sounding like no one but herself, she possesses a well-focused, slightly edgy tone that suits equally her firmly swinging, uptempo postbop excursions and her highly melodic slow-tempo explorations.” --David Franklin, JazzTimes
”If there is to be jazz in our future, it'll be because of musicians like saxophonist and composer Sarah Manning. Her music is unique, ultra-modern yet steeped in tradition, and it cooks. [She] plays the horn with conviction, fire, determination, and the kind of 'knowing certainty' that usually only comes to players in their middle and later years. She's a player to listen to, starting right now.” --Jessica Williams, Pianist
”Manning vaults out of the gate with a concentration reminiscent of 1961-era ‘Trane. Breathtaking.” --Kenneth Egbert, Jazz Now