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Coming Down the Mountain


Just heard via Scott Mehinick (his source, Time Out NY) that Papa Joe Maneri has passed on. Apologies for the ramshackle nature of this remembrance, but this hits me in the gut & heart, hard. Joe was (& still is) one of my favorites, as a musician and human being. I have fond memories of the half dozen times I was fortunate to catch him in performance. The best was the first at the Chicago Cultural Center and a post-show hang at a downtown hotel with Bhob Rainey as our impromptu sponsor. In the bar, over a bowl of peanuts, Joe regaled us with tales of his past, present and future for hours, finally taking down my address and promising to write when it came time to count sheep. A month went by, two, and I forgot all about the pledge. Then, out of the blue, I found an envelope in my mailbox festooned with glitter and gold star stickers & post-marked from Massachusetts. Inside was a hand-written letter from Joe with an apology for his delay in reply and an effusive, stream-of-consciousness reflection on that magical Chicago night. I still have the letter and treasure it. Seeing him in years subsequent he always greeted me with a grin that could warm the body from head to foot. On one such occasion, after his performance at the first (and sadly only) ACME festival in Athens, OH, Jon Morgan (of Meniscus Records) and I conspired at length about financing and releasing a solo record by Joe. That plan never came to pass and it’s something I’ve regretted since, especially so now. Hopefully there will plenty more remembrances in the coming hours and days. I look forward to reading them as a means of assuaging the sadness and have Joe’s own directive: “Get Ready to Receive Yourself” at my mind’s forefront.


9 comments for “Coming Down the Mountain”

  1. I never got to hear him live, but I love those three quartet albums on Hat, I have Coming Down the Mountain on now. The trios with Barre are fantastic as well.

    Posted by damon_smith | August 26, 2009, 3:21 pm
  2. Derek, many thanks for this appreciation. Can you tell me/us what ever happened to Morgan and Meniscus? The label was a favorite, and poof! then it was gone. I’m sure I missed the news when it happened.

    Posted by Henry Hughes | August 31, 2009, 1:42 pm
  3. As Derek’s the next door neighbour here – unless JM has relocated to the wilds of Siberia (I often wondered if that was the case while waiting for his emails :)) – I’ll let him answer that one. It would be nice to know though how many of those Meniscus discs sold out, or, if not, where and how we can still get hold of them. There were some real gems in Jon’s catalogue.

    Posted by Dan Warburton | September 1, 2009, 10:12 am
  4. Not hearing back from Derek. Didn’t mean to hijack the thread, especially if it’s viewed as at all disrespectful to Maneri and this remembrance. Apologies if so. If anyone can answer my kwerstion, please email me at techshackle at yahoo dot com. Thanks.

    Posted by Henry Hughes | September 1, 2009, 5:29 pm
  5. No need to apologise – Bags threads frequently change direction (I wouldn’t call it hijacking, as that implies taking control of a moving vehicle, and a lot of threads here stop altogether for days and weeks.. you don’t hijack a parked car, you steal it ;)). And I’m sure DT will soon be back from wherever he’s gone for summer holidays.

    Posted by Dan Warburton | September 2, 2009, 12:22 am
  6. Sorry, Henry. No problem on changing the tack here. Jon’s alive and well. Meniscus, on the other hand & from what I understand, is pretty much dead and buried in his basement. I’ll see if I can get him to sound off on the particulars.

    Thanks for pinch-hitting, Dan ;-)

    Posted by derek | September 2, 2009, 9:15 am
  7. Thanks gents. Just for the record (you never know who’s monitoring these proceedings), I have never stolen or hijacked a car, nor am I planning to do so now. Further questions on the subject should be taken up with my attorney.

    Posted by Henry Hughes | September 2, 2009, 12:10 pm
  8. “Nah man, that ain’t me. I’m from Buffalo.”

    Posted by clifford | September 2, 2009, 4:23 pm
  9. Any time anyone ever comes at me with a “don’t I know you from somewhere?” that’s without a nanosecond of hesitation what they get.

    Posted by MRS | September 10, 2009, 10:00 am

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