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Ex-pat Romanian pianist Lucian Ban first came to Sage Gateshead way back in November 2011, leading an all-star New York octet in a jazz re-imagining of the works of violinist and composer George Enescu. Not only was the project a huge success, but it forged a close link between Lucian and the revolutionary viola player Mat Maneri, whose marriage of jazz and microtonal music “has changed how the jazz world listens to the violin and viola”. Since then the pair have toured worldwide as a duo (including two memorable performances in Newcastle), and issued an acclaimed album Transylvanian Concert on the prestigious ECM label.
On one of their visits to the UK they seized an opportunity to play with the great Evan Parker, a man who for nearly five decades has been re-writing the rules for how the saxophone can sound, and it was immediately apparent that here was a meeting of musical minds. In late 2016 they went into the studio to record a series of compositions and improvisations; the trio come to Sage Gateshead as part of a European tour launching the resulting album, Sounding Tears.
Between them Mat, Lucian and Evan have performed with just about every significant figure in improvised music, and that experience, empathy and shared history is evident in every note that they play. This is music that is deeply intimate yet, in Mat Maneri’s words, “sets in motion the whole world”.