New Zealand-born Myele Manzanza first made a name for himself as one-third of Electric Wire Hustle, but after six years of performing, recording and touring with the band that he’d formed, he left in 2013 to release his debut solo album One.
Having worked with the likes of Mark de Clive-Lowe, First Word label-mate Ross McHenry, Sorceress, Amp Fiddler, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Marcus Strickland, Recloose, Jordan Rakei and most recently joining Australian contemporary dance company, KAGE to name but a few, Manzanza has built up quite a reputation as both a drummer and songwriter.
The variety of music he’s created in his career is representative of his mix of influences and styles, mixing aspects of jazz, African beats and hip-hop makes for a staggering impact and Tuesday night we were treated to the full force of that at Manchester’s Band on the Wall.
Manzanza rarely speaks through his set, joking later on “it’s hard to talk and keep time”, but along with Matt Dal Din on bass and Aron Ottignon on keys, the trio have an infectious enthusiasm for their craft.
The enjoyment had by the trio seems to be matched only by their adoring crowd. A number of changes in tempo results in rounds of applause and childlike smiles, with a few shifts resulting in the gentleman sat next to me physically jolting and exclaiming “ooooh yes!” Partially created by Band on the Wall’s passionate fan base, partially by Manzanza’s enthusiasm and hard hitting tracks, the room is given a sense of community that’s infectious.
His set is largely originals, with a handful of covers through into the mix including a particularly energetic rendition of Theo Parish’s Love is War for Miles. The gig is seated which is a good move as although the Manzanza trio’s tracks are engaging enough to insight a need for interaction, actually doing so might have been difficult with the number of improvised segments included in the set. This doesn’t take away from the night, in fact, it shows Manzanza doing exactly what he’s best at, writing music that’s engaging, yet unpredictable and the crowd appreciate that.
Anyone who dares say jazz is a relaxing genre I would dare to attend a Manzanza Trio gig. True you get swept along in the moment but it’s a rushing river of sound round than a tranquil stream. It’s hard not have a good time when listening to music that moves so quickly and features so many twists and turns, it feels like the audio representation of a fireworks show.