Jazz buddies

Jacam Manricks and Joe Gilman combine their well-learned music backgrounds in an eclectic duo

Jacam Manricks searches for his jazz pal.

Jacam Manricks searches for his jazz pal.

Photo courtesy of jacam manricks

Check out Gilmanricks at 6 p.m. Saturday, December 2, at CLARA Auditorium, 1425 24th Street. Tickets are $10 in advance, $20 at the door. Learn more at www.jacammanricks.com.

Jacam Manricks was apprehensive about moving to Sacramento five years ago.

The prolific jazz saxophonist had previously moved from Australia to Brooklyn, and in roughly a decade, made a name for himself in the New York jazz scene. When his wife got a job offer at UC Davis, he was reluctant to give that up. Fortunately, he also landed a job in the UC Davis music department.

Still, he wanted to play gigs. His New York friends told him to look up Joe Gilman, a jazz pianist since the early ’80s and jazz professor at American River College.

A little eager perhaps, Manricks fired off several emails to Gilman about playing together, but also asking for advice on where he could get a piano.

“I wanted to play with this cat,” Manricks says. “I probably wrote him 10 emails. He was probably like, ’What the hell is this? Asking me about pianos. I’m not a piano salesman.’”

The flurry of emails didn’t scare Gilman. In fact, he took the time to check out Manricks’ music and was impressed.

“I was like, ’Holy macaroni, this guy is coming to Sacramento,’” Gilman says. “I hope he can make it worth his while to stay here, because it’s great to have him as a member of the musical community.”

It took nearly a year for the two to start playing together, but Gilman soon became Manricks’ go-to pianist for gigs. On December 2, Manricks releases a new record on his Manricks Music Records—a two-piece project called Gilmanricks.

It’s an adventurous, moody jazz album that breathes with immense emotion. It’s stark, and it’s remarkable that so much is being created by just two musicians. Elements of traditional and progressive jazz intertwine seamlessly.

This record is special because it’s the first to be recorded in Manricks’ new studio, which he built last year in his Sacramento home. The duo recorded the whole thing in a four-hour session.

“I learned a hell of a lot, from playing with Joe, and from learning how to be an engineer,” Manricks says. “To put out music like this in a time where things are so monetary-based, and knowing that we’re not going to make money on it, it gives me a sense of satisfaction because I think making music is one of the most amazing things that human beings do.”

The roots of the songs were mostly written by Manricks, with the exception of “Ethereal,” which Gilman sketched out. The plan was to be more 50-50 with the composition, but as Gilman listened to the kinds of songs Manricks was writing—influenced by traditional jazz and classical music—he thought his tunes didn’t quite fit. Manricks has a long history in both realms. He had professional classical music parents, who also were avid appreciators of jazz. Gilman, while a versatile player, felt most at home in the bee-bop realm.

You can hear the broad spectrum of their muses on the record. Now, they’re talking about doing even more projects as Gilmanricks.

“I’m pretty sure he chose me because we could stick our names together,” Gilman says. “No one else had ’mans’ at the end of their name.”