Ban / Surman / Maneri
“Transylvanian Folk Songs”
As his international jazz career has developed, the Romanian pianist Lucian Ban has increasingly found inspiration in the Eastern European music he grew up with. In this project he essays the folk roots of Béla Bartók, creating introspective three-way conversations with violist Mat Maneri and the legendary British reedist John Surman.
Ban / Surman / Maneri: “Transylvanian Folk Songs”
(GB, US, RO)
Romanian pianist Lucian Ban grew up in Cluj, often considered the seat of Transylvanian culture, and as a child he was often surrounded by the folk melodies famously collected in the region by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, who adapted many of them in his own work. Even after moving to New York to pursue a career in jazz, those melodies continued to haunt Ban, especially when he began working with the singular violist Mat Maneri. One of Maneri’s major teachers was Robert Koff, a one-time member of the Juilliard String Quartet, whose recordings of Bartók’s music stand as one of the ensemble’s greatest achievements. They worked together on the 2007 album Ban made with bassist John Hébert, interpreting the compositions of Romanian classical composer George Enescu, and that new partnership that has thrived ever since, with a recurring interest in Romanian folk material. In 2020 the duo joined forces with the masterful Oslo-based English reedist John Surman – who has his own deep engagement with folk themes and studied Bartók in college – for the album “Transylvanian Folk Songs: The Béla Bartók Field Recordings”. After Ban and Maneri chose repertoire from Bartók’s transcriptions from the region and developed airy arrangements, they invited Surman to further transform the material. Together the trio leaves plenty of space for improvisation, its chamber-like arrangements preserving the melodic essence of the tunes, while keeping them open enough for endless reinvention.
John Surman saxophone
Mat Maneri violin
Lucian Ban piano