"Ever been disappointed by a recording or concert where avant-garde / creative / experimental artists pay tribute to a key mainstream figure? I know I have (but of course I'm naming no names). All too often, it seems the experimentalists are so seduced by playing 'normal' music (or perhaps are keen to demonstrate that they can play 'properly') that their avant-garde credentials appear to wither away.
Not so here, I'm glad to say. The Mancini Projecthas the specific intention of combining a love of the familiar with a relish of the experimental, squaring that particular circle and hopefully producing a true fusion; a meeting of musical minds (and generations) rather than a simplistic and fashionable nod to mainstream accessibility.
My Composition No. 49: Views Of Mancini was originally written for London's Club Room as part of their Departure Lounge season in the Summer of 1999. The piece was scored for a jazz piano trio, plus 'sound manipulation artist' and prerecorded tapes, and used a combination of free improvisation, contemporary jazz, experimental sound manipulation and electroacoustic composition to reflect upon a series of well and less well known Mancini compositions. (For many years my experimental work has been subsidised by my playing more 'commercial' music, and I had long wanted to write a piece which reflected my love of both repertoires.) The suite as recorded here (some 4 years later) includes partly-notated partly-improvised organic reconstructions of Mancini originals, pieces in which found objects are combined with layers of improvisation and notation, and free improvisations using Mancini as raw sonic material. To put it in a nutshell, these are all great tunes, and it just so happened that I felt I'd like to try play- ing this repertoire with 'experimental' musicians in an 'avant-garde' way - and this is what came out. At least we didn't pull our punches..."-Simon H. Fell