Henry Manetta Reviews and Press

Review of Henry Manetta and the Trip at The Promethean, Adelaide. March 2011.


By Zoe Mitchell for Kryztoff RAW. This afternoon jazz performance laid down their set with style and grace. The Promethean provided a sumptuous venue for the high class musical foursome, the New Jazz Underground. Consisting of the singer, drummer, bass player and pianist, the band gave us over an hour and a half of original and cover pieces, putting their heart and soul into providing the audience with an unforgettable performance. The audience took their jazz very seriously, and seemed very happy with what they recieved from Henry Manetta and the Trip. The band were very professional and capable in their abilities to create freeflowing soundscapes for the audience. The visual rapport between the band members allowed the audience to trust them, and be taken into the unspoken, creative realm of Sexjazz.

 

Article by Chloe Wilson, Beat Magazine, September 22nd, 2010.

 
Take a swing by Goldie Place off Little Bourke St. and you'll see the sign for The Paris Cat. Step inside and you may discover the one and only show of 'The Sexjazz Song Cycle', and the very physical jazz and rhythmic variations of Henry Manetta and the Trip. Adam Rudegeair kicks off with his new project, 'Songs Without Worlds'. With Anna Altmann on vocals, Justin Ashworth on guitar and Rudegeair on keys. This original material explores the human condition: life, love, solitude, joy, and all that's in between the social and cultural spheres of what it means to be human.
Henry Manetta and the Trip follow up with a performance of a selection of songs from 'Sexjazz', their third studio album, which Manetta describes as a "soul meets jazz extravaganza." This ensemble includes Adam Rudegeair on piano, Sam hall on drums, Adam Spiegl on bass, and Ron Romero on horn. Romero is on the experimental side of lyrical, with a sound modelled on John Coltrane, and the influences of his teacher, Melbourne saxophonist Jamie Oehlers.
Manetta is on the mic, and uses the technique of vocalising - using his voice like a saxophone or trumpet. In some ways his vocals are like a very technical Chet Baker. Manetta comes from a background of listening to Tim Buckley, Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, James Brown and Sun Ra. "A fairly broad spectrum but at the same time focussed: soul, jazz, funk, and the blues as well," says Manetta to describe his listening zones and influences for 'Sexjazz'.
Manetta ranges from inventive to cosmic lyrics for expressions and impressions. A lot of the Sexjazz lyrics are about real things, or the concepts of real things. Such as 'The Beatnik Sighed', which was written about someone in rehab. 
"In the meantime wit like a sacrament / continues its salvation / he understood in the dark / hidden from the nation."
There is a poetic quality to Manetta's lyrics, one that could even be considered cryptic, and they are often delivered with a dark humour and physical presence.
This is not mainstream jazz though. According to Manetta, "There are no standards." Everything is original, without bounds, confined by nothing more than the influences of entire music genres: soul, blues, funk and jazz. Manetta even considers himself as an outsider in terms of the music they make, saying that their music is far from "a generalised jazz concept."
A step into the Paris Cat is a step into the bebop era of Jazz; curtains, low hanging lights, wooden tables, chairs and stools and a bar in the corner. This is one of Melbourne's premier jazz clubs, delivering some of the best local and international jazz to Melbourne. Combine that with the smooth yet at times chaotic jazz from Rudegeair and Manetta, and you have the one and only show of 'The Sexjazz Song Cycle and Songs Without Worlds'. 

 

Review of 'Sexjazz' by Patrick Lang, DB Magazine, July 21st 2010.

 
If you hadn't guessed from an album called 'Sexjazz' or tracks that have titles like Womb Booth, I Slept With The Damned, Funkier Than A Mosquito's Tweeter and Downstairs to Hell, Henry Manetta is a pretty funny guy. Likewise, 'Sexjazz' is an always amusing, yet surprisingly musically muscular slice of lounge lizard jazz soul guaranteed to put a click in your fingers and a swing in your hips.
The Melbourne based Manetta is (with pianist Adam Rudegeair) a remarkably clever songwriter and a very versatile singer as well. His range goes from a high squeak to a low growl, and as is demonstrated on opener Womb Booth, he can manage quite an impressive avant-garde jazz-scat as well. His lyrics are consistently amusing too - "This isn't a tale of romance," he sings on 'Professional Lush' "cause your liquid lunch is all over your pants".

Manetta's backing band The Trip, meanwhile, really know what they're doing. With greasy sax-playing courtesy of Ron Romero and vibes from the always welcome Clare Moore, the melodies are infectious, ably held down by the super-tight rhythm section of drummer Scott Hay and bass player Adam Spiegal.

The whole exercise comes across somewhat like Tom Wait's 'Nighthawks At The Diner' album with some Dr. John thrown in for good measure. However, when the band stretches out the tracks with more progressive instrumental breaks and the occasional use of (gasp) synthesisers, 'Sexjazz' becomes its own unique beast.

Everything threatens to descend into jazz-inflected self parody with quite alarming regularity, but in the end Manetta and co's originality manages to shine through. This might be a bit dense and convoluted for the uninitiated (Professional Lush ends with a few bars of the Death March, after all...) but if you like your music dark, funny, smooth and jazzy, this is one trip you should definitely take.

Patrick Lang  
http://www.dbmagazine.com.au/499/cd-HenryManetta-307.shtml

 

Review of Henry Manetta and the Trip at Red Bennies, Wednesday July 7th 2010. By Anjela Bignell, PBSFM.

Soft pink overtones and showgirl posters tick-tacking the walls, Red Bennies smelt suspiciously like gas and cigarettes as I entered the newly advertised Jazz & Blues venue on Chapel Street. Henry Manetta & The Trip must surely be a combustible combination if this was anything to go by.
Henry Manetta has gained notoriety over the years for his Jazz, Blues and Soul-soaked vocals, sharing bills with some of Australia’s best-known acts: Paul Kelly, Joe Camilleri and Kate Cebrano to name a few. Henry Manetta joined forces with The Trip in the advent of his debut album, ‘Shiver’ and they have been playing together ever since.
The Trip began the performance with some busy, mixed-up jazz of sorts; with tweaks and snorts and smatterings of smooth sax they reintroduced the small but intimate crowd gathered to the Trip’s repertoire. Henry Manetta then slinked on stage for the first song, garbed in a black velour suit and top hat, drowning the background Trip with some deep, swinging vocals, and rising up to a very high pitched croon reminiscent of the improvisatory vocals of the late Frank Zappa.
Manetta tells the crowd to get their ‘Ra boots on’ in an ode to the experimental jazz artist, Sun Ra. Blending his songs with a sort of semi-scat, semi-preach blend of vocals, he switches and changes range with technical agility. His strength is not in his top notes, but within his deep, soothing voice, distinctly evident in their new piece, ‘The Perfect Mind.’ The song’s soft piano intro and smooth double bass entice me to kick back in my little corner and sink into a Jazz coma.
Manetta has an eccentric stage presence, which he plays on in a semi-indulgent manner. But this is Jazz, man, and he fits the bill. There is something very absorbing about the band that can be appreciated by people of varying musical influences and tastes. Especially with a front-man who keeps the audience visually inspired and who will undoubtedly leave their audience wanting more.

http://www.pbsfm.org.au/Documents.asp?ID=7437&Title=Henry+Manetta+%2D+Red+Bennies

 

Beat Magazine June 30th 2010.

As if the dazzling art deco splendour of South Yarra's newest establishment, Red Bennies, wasn't cool enough, Henry Manetta and the Trip are sure to inject some soulful jazz chill that will make the establishment implode with hyper-smoothness. With the slickness of Henry Manetta's vocals combined with the funky strains of Adam Rudegeair on piano, Adam Spiegl on bass, Ron Romero on the horn and Sam Hall on drums, you'll be struggling not to lose your shit. These guys are unforgettable from their instrumental arrangements to their surnames. Get swept up in the Trip ambience when you head down to Red Bennies on Wednesday July 7.

 

Review of 'Sexjazz' by Ron Spain, Jazz Scene Magazine, April 2010.

Heah cum de Dang Dang Man! Out of the nether regions of Melbourne, another tableau of delectable delights from the man whose mother must have weaned him on the vocalese of King Pleasure and Lambert Hendricks and Ross, with his puberty spent under the spell of Kurt Elling. This is music such as we may never hear away from the subterranean world of Dante's Inferno, or perhaps during a nightmare, but the man keeps touring so it may come to you in live performance, or from this CD. Without detailing the merits of every track, I'll talk of track 2 which opens with a tad of Dr. John piano, a chorus of crackling sax, and lyrics with the immediacy of Dylan Thomas after a bender at a Dublin tavern. Get the picture? Another track has a laid-back intensely swinging groove, meandering tenor sax screeching out a mood that only Romero's mind could devise, and more of those puckish lyrics. As for the melodies, most would confuse the whistling milkman five minutes after he'd heard them, but there is no doubting the brilliance of the way the notes come together with an aptness that underscores those words. While Henry's voice goes from basso to falsetto in the blink of a semi-quaver, the soloists gather their myriad ideas and jump in when their moment arrives. Influences abound with them all, which is interestingly enabling as they match their tone and invention to the erratic and erotic moods inspired by the lyrics, all bar two of the songs bearing the stamp of Messrs Manetta and Rudegeair. If titles inspire visions of content, then 'Womb Booth' or 'Professional Lush' might scare the living daylights out of the first-time listener, but 'Funkier Than A Mosquito's Tweeter' is as hilarious as it's title, so press on. Songs for swinging neurotics they may be, but this man and his band are so entertaining that the CD merits much playing in your very own padded cell. 
 


 
Review of Henry Manetta & the Trip at Brisbane Jazz Club, Saturday  March 27th 2010 by Alan Western.

This was Melbourne-based Henry's first visit to Brisbane and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. As an artiste virtually unknown in Brisbane he attracted a larger than expected crowd, proving once again that jazz can be many things to many people. I believe some astute pre-publicity and a bit of ABC airplay contributed to this, and I congratulate him on that.
Certainly what I heard was unexpected and it took a little while for me to get into his groove. Although it was categorized as soul jazz funk, I found it difficult to put any of these labels directly on what I heard.
I suppose I was expecting a bit more cabaret styling, but much of Henry's music is self-penned and demands to be listened to, to be understood. Yeah there was some rhythmic stuff but I wouldn't call it dance music. To me it was much more like way-out Kurt Elling stylisation, and not even easy to sing. Henry certainly has the voice for it, using his whole fairly considerable range within the compass of a few bars in some passages. Considering that a high percentage of the performance were unfamiliar originals written by Henry and his pianist Adam Rudegeair, the audience really dug the sounds. Henry demonstrates a great deal of musical integrity, as does his backing trio of Adam, Sam Hall on drums and Adam Spiegl on bass - all consummate jazz musicians with just the right feel for his sound.
Although Henry himself thought 'the ice was a bit thick' he ended up doing a good job breaking it, and I've no doubt we'll see him back in Brisbane again.

 

Review of 'Sexjazz' by Leon Gettler, The Age Green Guide, December 17th 2009.

Recorded and mixed in Port Melbourne, this soul-jazz release grabs your attention with its convoluted melody lines and percussive lyrics hammering away. Think of Aretha Franklin and combine that with Albert Ayler, Horace Tapscott and the bizarre but compelling rhythms of keyboardist Sun Ra and you have the idea. Vocalist Manetta has put together a work featuring originals that are highly innovative, even confronting, but still make captivating listening. That's no mean feat. It's due in no small part to a line-up that includes bassist Adam Spiegl, whose rock-solid lines hold everything together, saxophonist Ron Romero, Adam Rudegeair grooving away on the piano, Scott Hay on drums and percussion, combined with string arrangements featuring Alex Taylor on violin and Justin Ashworth providing synth backing that swings like fury. There are intriguing moments here, starting with the opener Womb Booth that has voices over the marimba and some gorgeous sax soloing including what sounds like circus licks on The Beatnik Sighed. Another is Manetta's voice against piano and bass on Professional Lush, culminating in a sax solo that seems to just ooze sex, combined with some vocalese capped off with the piano closing line straight from Chopin. This is worth listening to over and over.

 

Review of Henry Manetta and the Trip at Slide, Sydney. By Lloyd Bradford (Brad) Sykes  australianstage.com.au  November 6th 2009.

A drizzly Thursday evening. Not the best invitation to a night out. Less so, appparently, for other Sydneysiders. For, on our arrival at the bollarded entrance to Slide, on glittering Oxford Street, in downtown Darlo, the doorman confided, 'there are only two people inside'. I had to have him repeat it, even though I heard clearly, as I was somewhat incredulous. Where were you, Sydney? Fortunately, quite a number trickled in, 'though the venue was under no threat of being overcrowded. A pity, as the performers and premises deserve a full house. Happily also, Mr Manetta and co mustered all their enthusiasm to present a long and often blistering set, on the occasion of the launch of their new (limited edition) album, Sexjazz.

Sexjazz kinda sums it up. This is, indeed, a trip, but it ain't necessarily jazz, being as much informed by gospel, blues, soul and funk, to say nothing of the craft of the beat poet. Manetta has something of the sartorial splendour, charisma and theatricality of Mr Graney, whose wife and bandmate, Clare Moore, was supposed to be there, as far as I knew, on percussion and vocals. Where were you, Ms Moore? Still her absence and space was comfortably filled by The Trip who are fine musos indeed, to a man: the young, elongated Sam Hall (any relation to Tobes?) on drums; Adam Spiegl, resplendent on electric bass; the versatile chameleoon, Adam Rudegeair, on piano. (I gather there are a few other members who come and go, too.)

In his black velvet suit, he looks sleek, like a lean, cool cat on the prowl. He can scat. He can purr. He can pounce. What I take to be his very own beatnik purple praise-phrase helps here: 'the falsetto swoops and lands in rasping baritone shards upon the simmering piano keys'. Yup. One moment he's channelling, I dunno, Frankie Valli; the next, Tom Waits or Louis Armstrong. Then this black cat turns out his soul: there it is, ten times as large as his diminutive frame. OMG, it's Ike Hayes!

Noone can accuse these hypnotic hep cats of choosing predictable covers: keep your ears wide open for a strikingly enigmatic rendition of World Party's tragically underrated and more-than-ever-topical Ship Of Fools, as well as an relative obscurity from Nutbush's most famous export, Anna Mae Bullock, in the form of Funkier Than a Mosquito's Tweeter, which saw The Manetta dancing like a coked Ikette. He's got all the moves, 'n' all the grooves.

'A melismatic concoction of deep jazz thought, spatial blues and in-the-pocket soulfire.' That's The Tripsters own album revue, and I sure can't top it. The Beatnik Sighed sets off with an easy swing and relates the tale of a chick, 'who knew a jazz singer when she saw one', slap in the face, perhaps, to all those among us who suss our cool from cyberspatial social media, rather than listen to what's going on between out ears. But I wouldn't dare venture an interpretation with any self-assurance; not when one has to grapple with Hen's characteristic inscrutability, as in 'unforeseen and didactically thunderstruck'. Still and all, I think it's a tale of  speculated endless possibilities, between watcher and watched. It's certainly sexjazz; 'specially when Manetta, the lyrical spitfiring Baretta, invokes the muthafunking motifs. Melismatic? Yeah. Each syllable, or word, carefully matched to a single, solitary note. Each sound a moment your ears can make a real meal deal of. It's also systematic; automatic; even Hydramatic. But never high dramatic, 'cause, thankfully, these hipsters don't take themselves too seriously. Sometimes, the reshaped, fender bender aesthetic borders on self-parody. And that's, as Kevin Costner would say, neat. Get your hands on a copy of the album and you'll apprehend I Slept With The Damned is similarly chilled and late cocktail lounge; plush velour, a lonely cockroach crossing the floor, trying not to spill a martini.

The humourous sensibility rears its sarcastic head with the opening cut of HM's solo recorded set, Shiver: Don't Hold Your Breath opens with the blunt brutality of 'when we first met, I'd like to say you knocked me off my feet, but you didn't'. This is a diamond on disc and scintillating on stage.

Matt Frederick has said 'Henry is Australian jazz' most unique vocalist, bar none'. Without debating the descriptive merit of 'most unique', I second the emotion. Better yet, his cohorts are, each, as much a highlight, in their own right. They're so bloody good, one can almost overlook the fact they're from Melbourne. Almost. Well, alright!

Like your jazz cool? Stirred; sometimes shaken? Spacious, unconfined and unconventional? Then take what is a trip. The Trip. Pity you missed 'em, brothers 'n' sisters.


Review of 'Sexjazz' by John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald, September 25th 2009.

As the title suggests, there is a sense of humour at work here; A sly wink to let you know Melburnian Henry Manetta doesn't take this jazz lark too seriously, even if his singing is super cool, overtly clever and executed with considerable panache. You can hear echoes of Elling or Tom Waits but Manetta is carving out his own niche, with the help of songwriting partner Adam Rudegeair (on keyboards and marimba), by throwing R&B sassiness in amid the slippery jazz grooves and harmonies. Saxophone, bass and drums flesh out the songs, which keep Manetta's crooning, swooping, growling, scatting and generally zany voice and lyrics centre stage.

 

The Weekend Starts Here, The Age, February 6th 2009.

Sexjazz, the latest album from Henry Manetta, is playing hard to get at the moment, with live gigs one of the few places you can pick up a copy. Score one tonight at Paris Cat, where desire drenched songs such as I Slept With The Damned and Who Knows Where the Time Goes will be performed live. As always, Manetta's transcendent vocals are backed by the Trip featuring the behatted Adam Rudegeair on keys.
 


The Weekend Starts Here, The Age, April 24th 2008.

Henry Manetta and the Trip and their light fantastic sounds can be heard tomorrow night at the Paris Cat.
"Imagine a world where Captain Beefheart and Tim Buckley decided to form a band with Sun Ra sitting in on keys", is how this paper has reviewed their jazz and avant-garde music in the past. Spaced-out and soulful stuff. 


 
Lily Bragge, The Age, February 23rd 2008.

The day that jazz, soul and R&B singer Henry Manetta met pianist and fellow composer Adam Rudegeair, before they spoke one word, the duo successfully improvised a hot set of music together. The connection was deep and immediate and both knew they had found their artistic soulmate. Manetta describes Rudegeair as his "co-conspirator" and Rudegeair describes Manetta as his "jazz partner in crime". Individually, they have their own bands where, not surprisingly, they both play alternating role reversals. Tonight's foray into acoustic cabaret features Manetta on vocals, Rudegeair on piano, Adam Spiegl on double bass and poet Tom Joyce on words. Expect to hear a wild and rangy collection of original tunes that tell dramatic, unpredictable stories. Like singer/songwriter Dave Graney says, the music of Manetta and his mates "is very individual, spaced out, very physical and very out there."


Matthew Frederick, The Age. July 2008

"With influences including Billie Holiday, Sun Ra and Tim Buckley, Henry Manetta is Australian jazz's most unique vocalist bar none. A brave improviser, Henry plays his voice like a horn, bending and stretching tunes in ways that have to be heard to be believed."

Cue, SYN FM. June 2008.

"An impressive range indeed. Like some mystical combination of Tom Waits and Nina Simone."

Ron Spain, 'Seen and Heard' Jazz Scene Magazine, April 2008.

Melbourne's Manetta is an annual visitor to Adelaide, doing his unique vocal gymnastics with physical contortions and a top band lifting him to the heights. Right on. 

Matthew Frederick, The Age. October 2007. 

Imagine a world where Captain Beefheart and Tim Buckley decided to form a band with Sun Ra sitting in on keys. Defiantly individual and possessing a vocal range that almost defies belief, Henry draws influences from the grand traditions of jazz and soul, as well as the world of the avant-garde, to create music that is nothing if not unique.


Henry Manetta and The Trip plus Adam Rudegeair's One Hat Band featuring Anna Gilkison@ Melbourne Fringe.  Paris Cat, Friday October 5th by Helen Milte, Inpress 2007.


Rudegeair's deconstruction of Surrey With A Fringe On The Top sets the standard for a mesmerising night of jazz, his fingers making virtual splashy springtime in the underground bar. Add Adam Spiegl on double bass, Scott Hay on kit, the One Hat trio look like they'd never belong together, like the wrong guys who got together in year 9 and accidentally became best mates, and that's what makes them sound so right! Spiegl's joyful bass is both energiser bunny and deeply grounding; Scott Hay squeezes molten sounds out of his kit, all handsome angular, reading the singer, his face torn between laughter and pain with brushes. Rudegeair takes keys and paints them round the room upside down. He adds Anna Gilkison, so lyrical to his lyrics, and the girl has lime and Haigh's chocolate for vocal chords; together they make the cocktail they call Hedonism. Rudegeair's original set builds complexity and sexy energy. 'Disinterested' was a stand-out track for me with its "Call me, call me.." refrain, along with the power of 'And the T, it's me', slick American sounds, all Brad Pitt white suits and water fountains. Supersexy soul music!

Henry Manetta takes up vocals as the crowd continues to purr down the Cat's stairs ready for the second set. Manetta's cologne-filled note announces This Is Boysland and the room sits up for an edge of your Vegas (sorry, Paris) bar stool vocalist, his sound rich in the ecstasy and gamble of being a man in love with jazz. Manetta's highs are liquid Pernod-drenched thrill, and he makes the lows dirty, fills them with history, like the dark city landscape we were dug into. The trio proceeded to treat the now standing room-only bar to a love affair between his body-bending full throttle funkesque throat and Ron Romero's golden saxophone; the glassy piano working to the kit, and Manetta himself walking righteously to the confessional tone of the bass, deeply guilty and loving it. The night progressed through jazzy song stories, always eclectic, ever intimate; songs like singing the hospital ward under fluoro. 'Monkesque 3' managed the feat of taking apart and reassembling what lovers do; there were unforgettable shimmering solos from every instrument. Forget YouTube, get a beautiful date and get on out to where they're making it last and newly.

Review of Henry Manetta and the Trip @ Blue Diamond by Tony McMahon, Inpress, May 23rd, 2007.

"Feeling somewhat like I’m in a Woody Allen movie, I travel 15 floors above the city nightscape in a funky old elevator and enter the Blue Diamond, without any doubt Melbourne’s coolest new venue, with plush red velvet everywhere, plusher drinks and a city view to die for; the perfect place to see the cool jazz/soul/blues fusion that is Henry Manetta and the Trip. When the band start their fist set, just like in the book by Kerouac, the music makes me want to run around crazily, sweating, yelling things like “Yeah,” “That’s Right,” and, “Blow, man, blow.” Jazz, for some reason, is often best appreciated at 4am, after drinking a surrealistic amount of alcohol, but it’s testament to the Trip’s gravitas that they’d be just as good at lunchtime, stone-cold sober, at cocktail hour, a slight buzz on, or the aforementioned early hours, too drunk to see, but somehow still soaking in the band’s delicious, anarchic sound.
As a singer, dapper, diminutive frontman Manetta has a range to be envied, and a cadence all his own. His voice is almost an instrument in its own right: all rhythm, part melody, and scatt-a-tatt punctuation. Some of the band’s quieter, more improvised, tinkling moments were lost in the din of the large, elegant crowd, and this is a shame, they so obviously deserved our rapt attention.
By the second set, the crowd is quieter and the Trip are louder: pounding away and absolutely owning the place with sax solos straight out of the late forties Chicago night and mid song applause in earnest appreciation. People dance like they’re part of the band, such is the power and connectivity of the music.
Set number three – surely it must now be the small hours – and booze and music and atmosphere have all done their demon work. I’ve forgotten exactly how bad good Jazz can be, but Henry Manetta and the Trip have reminded me in an elegantly edgeless, no rules way. The next ‘song’ might be three or 30 minutes long. It doesn’t matter. Nothing does with music this good. Jazz is, or should be, every anarchist’s favourite kind of music, and this band are up there with the most exalted potentates of the form this particular anarchist has ever seen.
Make sure you visit the Blue Diamond. It’s an experience you won’t easily forget. If Henry Manetta and the Trip are playing while you’re there, it’s guaranteed to be one you’ll never forget."

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Review of ‘Erosophy,’ featuring Henry Manetta and the Trip, Adelaide Fringe Festival 2007. By Rosie Clarke. DB Magazine, March 2007.

In the sophisticated setting of Club 199, I settled in to a leather sofa for an afternoon of jazz and poetry on the theme of love. The dynamic Melbourne jazz group Henry Manetta & The Trip featured exciting piano virtuoso Adam Rudegeair, outstanding tenor saxophonist Ron Romero, switching between the highest harmonics and the deepest resounding blasts on Misterioso, supportive bass from Adam Spiegl and dramatic drums from Scott Hay. Manetta hunches and twists like a Spanish dancer, his resonant voice alternately growling and hollering compellingly.

Matt Hetherington read unemotionally, suggesting enigmatically in Love Poem that "Love is smiling at the world the way a dog smiles at a fence," while his Words I Promise I'll Never Use in a Love Poem list evoked laughter: "Ukelele. Stirrups. Howard! [...] Please. Clap." Angela Cook was accompanied by a drum pounding with growing intensity as she intoned, "I am the embodiment of desire, red with light." Reading Like This by the Sufi poet Rumi, to set off each epiphanic moment miniature cymbals were clashed together, their shrill sound hanging in the air.

Helen Milte's poem Hills Like White Arses sounded startling in her soft voice. Rudegeair was an effective accompanist, creating discordant thumps to replace explicit words. Her Text Message Love Poems written with partner Kris Allison seemed rather expansive for this terse genre, but were intriguingly counterpointed by his responses.

Allison was the most dynamic performer, taking on different personas to hector commuters "Read my arse!" Hetherington performed an electrifying Tom Joyce poem, Play, challenging Manetta's unpredictable voice to respond. For lovers of poetry and jazz, this was a stimulating series of conversations.

Rosie Clarke

Review of “Erosophy” featuring Henry Manetta and the Trip. Adelaide Fringe Festival 2007. By Pete ‘Festival Freak,’ March 2007.

Henry Manetta and the trip open proceedings with some gentle jazz before Manetta performs a little solo scat singing; he's great, alternately edgy and fabulously booming when required. The rest of The Trip were awesome, too, especially Ron Romero on sax. Matt Hetherington opens up the spoken word portion of proceedings, and I was initially unimpressed with the contrived rhymes in his first (of many) Love Poem; he hits his stride later with Some of Us, the gigglingly good Words I'll Never Use In A Love Poem, and his choice of Ginsberg to close was solid. He also dropped the word "infinitude" into a poem, which earned big props from me.
Matt also played drums (bongos?) whilst Angela Cook read her piece Fucking, lending the performance the type of feel I always imagined the Beat Generation enjoyed. Angela was an ace performer - with a sparkle in her eye and a shy & knowing smile, her consonants linger and lead us gently through her lust. Fabulous.
Manetta and The Trip play a bit more either side of a break, kicking some solid grunt in at some point. Professional Lush almost trips over itself with its many distinct styles and solos, with Manetta lolling about the stage like a tripped-out skeleton. The sounds are great, and it's entertaining to watch.
After the break, Helen Milte-Bastow takes to the stage - and she is awesome, though sadly her soft voice is a little overwhelmed by her backing music. But her words are great - vivid imagery, pop-culture references ahoy, and just plain beautiful. Kris Allison joins her onstage for the fabulous SMS Love Poem, before continuing with his own work - and he, too, rules the stage. Rambling yet tight, urban and insightful, one line etched itself into my skull - "You want to reach me, but I'm too universal". Magic.
Hetherington returns to the stage to read some work by (the absent) Tom Joyce, accompanied by more Manetta scatting. The Trip come on for a great closer, with keyboardist Adam Rudegeair fronting up for some jazzy rap. And we're done; I chat to several of the poets, quite possibly committing more of the faux pas that I'm renowned for. Bugger :}
One weird thing, though - there were two odd guys pottering around the venue throughout the performance with video cameras; one, accompanied by an obscenely bright light, had no idea what he was seeing. The spoken word performances left him completely bemused.
And that makes me laugh. And, hence, happy.

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Review of “Bijou Box” by John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald. February 2006.

Henry Manetta’s singing is eccentric enough to catch the attention. After a listen, some will remain intrigued; others will run screaming from the room or burn the CD player in revenge. The Melburnian inhabits a seemingly conventional jazz world of piano, bass and drums, but he bends it out of recognisable shape even as he bends the syllables and harmonies until they surrender or snap. Often, successive lines could be delivered by different singers, so complete is his chameleon routine.

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Review of Henry Manetta and the Trip – Jazz at Fringe. Melbourne Fringe Festival 2005. By Helen Milte-Bastow, Inpress October 2005.

Down the Paris end of Swan St, Henry Manetta and The Trip made notes, dry as the driest Martini, drenched in rainmaker’s grumble: Manetta has the blues of his Marseilles roots – think voice of a refugee clown from the stage door of the winter circus [that’s Cirque Hiver, not du Soleil] the way he chats down his audience, like a landlady, and then delivers the solemnity of the lyric from behind the grease paint smile, his own soulful mask working Adam Rudegeair on piano/keys, Pete Mitchell on sax. This listener went to Paris, all Gato Barbieri traffic noise and Brando’s raincoat, via Victor Harbor’s black starry sky and the lunacy of space. Lyrics made jazz in a night-nurse’s delirium corridor; a holiday town at the end of the street of the world; the existential problem that is musical Adelaide. The smooth rhythms of Simon Bonney on bass and Scott Hay on kit added Miss Clare Moore on harmonies and sifted bells, her female hand on a silky tambourine, scratching out shaker moves with hair pins, eyes, city-smart lashes; she’s got to be the Sarah Jessica Parker of back-ups. God is in the details: Manetta’s suit, slippery as, slim chain, slim black watch; slim black scat like his moves. He sang what he loves and the band played the weariness of late night Melbourne kitchens; cigarettes, tea, yesterday’s sports page, Pernod – the rumble and silence of the tram under the train bridge outside. Manetta whispered his audience, like a boy, with his eyes closed, Prince-like, while the road got wet. His throaty-manly rendition of a blues standard made every woman want to get right on out there and buy one of them evening gowns, and make it tight. Offsetting the singer’s elegant lines, Rudegeair made action painting splashes on his keys, later adding white raps in a well-loved Melbourne voice, soloing an audience member in a Prince T-shirt Let’s Go Crazy on a melodica to finish the night. The preacher said, ‘Go in peace’. That was it. © Helen Milte Bastow

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Review of “Bijou Box” by Ron Spain, Jazz Scene Magazine, November2004.

Every tune on this recording explores rhythmic variations that are definitely “outside the square”, while the vocalist ranges from Buddy Greco to Buddy Hackett and Matt Murphy to Rose Murphy. The sensuous treat, ‘Misterioso’, composed by Thelonious Monk, is a highlight worthy of immediately pressing the repeat button, while Cole Porter’s ‘I love Paris’ is a riot. After decades spent worrying about vocalists who take no chances, playing it straight between very narrow parameters, this is a breath of fresh air. If the musos had as much fun making this as I had hearing it several times, we shared several happy hours.
Alternately manic, hilarious and ultra-cool, this is good, good, good

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Don Brow, Jazz Scene Magazine, October 2002.

Vocalist and songwriter, Henry Manetta, is accompanied by Geoff Kluke, bass and Bob Sedergreen, piano, forming the nucleus of the backing group. They are joined by a host of other musicians, including Christophe Genoux, saxophone, backing vocalist Clare Moore, and percussion on some tracks. Manetta sings some original songs joined by co-composer of three tracks on the CD, Evatt Christodoulou, also the pianist on ‘Love on the Wing’. Kluke features on ‘Prologue to Penelopeornthia’ with a walking bass line against the bluesy vocalise from Manetta. Sedergreen provides some soulful as well as swinging backing to Manetta’s vocals. Essentially a gutsy blues/soul/jazz influenced singer, Manetta will be performing at Dizzy’s Jazz Bar with The Trip on Thursday October 20th. If you like what you hear grab a CD on the night.

Don Brow, Jazz Scene Magazine.

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Review of Henry Manetta and the Trip at Dizzy’s by Joel Shortman, Beat Magazine, May 2002.

A wintry mid evening saw Henry Manetta and the Trip play to a cluster of devotees at Dizzy’s Jazz Bar, Richmond. Opening with a scat-bass duo (Manetta:vocals,dancing; Indra Buraczewska:double bass) the band filled out their sound with Adam Rudegeair on piano and drummer Scott Hay and played two originals: ‘Monkesque’ and ‘Shiver’. Mr. Manetta and the Trip then embarked on a set of originals and innovative takes on such favourites as The Duke’s ‘Caravan’. Their self-proclaimed brand of ‘Oblique Soul/Jazz’ enlivened such standards as ‘I Love Paris’ with humorous musical quotations and clever tempo changes, but the standout for me was ‘Bijou Box’, a ballad with a strong melancholy motif and plenty of space for each instrumentalist. The Trip’s eclectic range of influences were well displayed by a decidedly upbeat cover of Tina Turner’s ‘Funkier than a Mosquito’s Tweeter’ and the sweltering delta groove of ‘Deja Voodoo’. Henry Manetta’s stage manner suggests that of a seasoned cabaret performer, while his voice was hailed by way of introduction as ‘the reason vocal chords were invented’. This hyperbole holds some truth considering his confident delivery of repeated chorus lines. Manetta’s vocal improvisations have to be heard to be believed, though his style of scat might not be to everyone’s taste. The Trip provide great support and all have a chance to solo; ‘Monkesque’ and ‘Misterioso’ were showcases in particular for the talents of young pianist Adam Rudegeair, an acolyte of sorts of Thelonious Monk, right me was ‘Bijou Box’, a ballad with a strong melancholy motif and plenty of space for each instrumentalist. The Trip’s eclectic range of influences were well displayed by a decidedly upbeat cover of Tina Turner’s ‘Funkier than a Mosquito’s Tweeter’ and the sweltering delta groove of ‘Deja Voodoo’. Henry Manetta’s stage manner suggests that of a seasoned cabaret performer, while his voice was hailed by way of introduction as ‘the reason vocal chords were invented’. This hyperbole holds some truth considering his confident delivery of repeated chorus lines. Manetta’s vocal improvisations have to be heard to be believed, though his style of scat might not be to everyone’s taste. The Trip provide great support and all have a chance to solo; ‘Monkesque’ and ‘Misterioso’ were showcases in particular for the talents of young pianist Adam Rudegeair, an acolyte of sorts of Thelonious Monk, right down to the hat. The only notable flat spot was ‘Don’t Hold Your Breath’, which dragged a little, though when the audience swelled at 11pm The Trip were back en route, closing with Westwind, a tribute to Nina Simone.

Joel Shortman, Beat Magazine

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Henry and Adam

 

Henry Manetta Singing

 

Henry Manetta Singing

 

Adam Rudegeair

 

Adam Rudegeair playing piano

 

Adam playing piano

 

Whole Band

 

Adam

 

 

 

 

The Trip