Manatee | Look the Other Way

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Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz World: World Fusion Moods: Instrumental
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Look the Other Way

by Manatee

Creative improvised music + audience controlled perfomances + hand signal conducting + infectious horn lines + whiplash rhythms = Manatee. This is their debut album.
Genre: Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Open Your Hand, Close Your Hand
2:23 $0.99
2. Want a Reward?
6:37 $0.99
3. King of the Castle
7:23 $0.99
4. Fast Crawl
7:09 $0.99
5. Valleys
5:06 $0.99
6. Race in a Cave
8:14 $0.99
7. Highlife (Var. 1)
5:34 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Manatee is an improvising ensemble that mixes wild sounds, danceable beats, massive horn lines, and audiences as closely together as possible. The group uses hand signals to negotiate their way through improvised pieces of music, and invites audiences to control the sound space by learning and making those same signals. Manatee has not only forged a distinct sound, but has also created an inventive, new way of making music.

"Look The Other Way" is Manatee's debut release. The recording of each piece was also filmed live in the studio! Check out Manatee at work on YouTube.

Here is an incomplete, bendable set of Manatee Rules:


1. Head/pre-composed section comes first
2. Improvised/Audience controlled section follows
3. Piece ends with a pre-composed ending, signaled by an ensemble member/audience member


HEAD> Tap top of head. Once the ensemble sees the signal, conduct two beats before entering the head.
SWITCH RHYTHM> Wag your finger back and forth like you’re saying “no” to someone. Conduct two beats before switching.
SOLO> Open and close your hand like a blinking light, then point to the band member you want to solo.
INTRO> Pull on ear lobe and conduct two beats before beginning the intro.
MAKE YOUR OWN TIMELINE> Tap your wrist, then begin playing a rhythmic ostinato. The rest of the group will follow.
*HITS> Put both hands up and pretend you're punching/slapping a wall in front of you with both hands. The higher your hands are the higher pitched the hit will be. Lower your hands to signal a low pitched hit.
*VOLUME> Two fingers on an upright forearm slide up and down like a mixing board to control volume.
*TEMPO> Hold one forearm horizontal, crossed with your other forearm. Raise the horizontal forearm to increase tempo, lower it to decrease. Nodding your head along with the desired tempo helps to direct the band.
END> Raise a closed fist. Conduct two beats before entering the end section.
* = Signal borrowed from Walter Thompson’s “Sound Painting” system. Several other unlisted signals used in Manatee are borrowed from the same system.

Manatee borrows sounds from many musical traditions and cultures, but the most prominent are the North American jazz tradition, traditional Ghanaian drum music, and West African afrobeat.

Each piece's improvised section is anchored by two rhythmic patterns called "timelines." The group uses one pattern at a time as the backbone for its improvisation. This concept is inspired by the function of "bell pattern" rhythms in traditional Ghanaian drum music.

The use of hand signals is inspired mostly by Walter Thompson's "Sound Painting" and John Zorn's "Cobra" systems for making music. Both systems use a collection of hand signals to direct the improvisation of a large ensemble of musicians.



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