Sarah Manning: Shattering The Glass Ceiling
AAJ: Art Hirahara, Linda Oh, and Kyle Struve are your cohorts in Shatter the Glass and they play on the new record as well. Tell me something about their individual contributions to the music on Dandelion Clock.
SM: I tried to write features for each person. The tune "The Owls (Are On The March)" ended up being a real feature for Art. Again, it's because of his almost classical-sounding contrapuntal playing. There are some passages that are almost fugue-like, where he and I and the bass are playing, where the time kind of breaks down. He's also using the piano strings on that piece.
Linda is featured on "Crossing, Waiting," both in keeping up the pulse of the tune, and also the bridge is a little bit of a nod to Mingus' "Fables of Faubus." Basically, it's a division of three. She's playing triplets over the four-four time.
One of the things Kyle's done as part of his musical resume, is playing with a rock band called Heavy Rescue. He has the indie rock sound as part of his drumming. So the arrangement of "The Windmills Of Your Mind" is sort of a homage to Radiohead's "Exit Music (For a Film)," when the drums come in at the very end with a really rock-and-roll back beat.
AAJ: Were the compositions written specifically for the record date?
SM: "The Owls (Are On The March)" was written when I was in transition from the West Coast to New York City. I spent about a year-and-a-half in Massachusetts, in between. So that was written ahead of time. As the band grew tighter, the tune evolved a little more. "Marble" was written specifically for the date. The arrangements of "The Peacocks" and "The Windmills Of Your Mind" were done especially for the date. "Phoenix Song" and "Habersham Street" I had recorded previously, but not with this ensemble. "I Tell Time By The Dandelion Clock" and "Crossing, Waiting" were written with the album in mind.
AAJ: It's striking how well "The Peacocks" and "The Windmills Of Your Mind" mesh with your original compositions. What made you decide to choose these two tunes for the record?
SM: Marc Free was the producer of the record. He asked me to include two tunes that were not originals. I chose those particular tunes mainly because of their melodies. For years I have been haunted by "The Peacocks." The Wayne Shorter version, actually. When Marc asked me to choose a couple of tunes, that one immediately came to mind. As far as "The Windmills Of Your Mind" is concerned, I'm sort of obsessed with that tune. It's cyclical in nature. One of the things that I really get into as a composer is sort of hypnotic manifestations of time. And that particular tune is a 14-bar phrase. It seems like it could go on forever. That's what really attracted me to it.
AAJ: Is there anything else you would like to say?
SM: Actually, there's one thing I would like to add. There's one tune on the album that is completely improvised.
AAJ: "Through The Keyhole"?
SM: Yes. That's also something I'll credit to Marc. I didn't know, going into the studio, that we were going to do that. It turned out to be something I'm very proud of. It's like somebody turned the lights off and turned the tape off, and we got a chance to play without knowing we were being recorded. Everything I'd internalized over the past six months finally came to the surface. I was struck by how much I love playing with who I'm playing with, and how they really listen. I think it really comes out in that particular piece.
Pages 1, 3: Renee Allen
Pages 2, 4: Courtesy of Sarah Manning