Jeremy Manasia, Jazz pianist and Teacher-in-Training at the Village Zendo,
redefines Buddhist texts through his latest album Sutra Book
Critically acclaimed New York Jazz pianist Jeremy Manasia uses Jazz as a conversation to explore sacred Zen chants
New York, NY – Jeremy Manasia has been student of Roshi Enkyo O'Hara and member of the Village Zendo in Noho for over 15 years. Widely recognized as a masterful pianist in the New York City jazz scene for two decades, Manasia juxtaposes the intentionality of vital texts in the Soto Zen Tradition alongside the impressionistic sound of the piano through his latest album Sutra Book – which will be released by SmallsLIVE Records at Smalls Jazz Club on September 28, 2018.
Sutra Book is a groundbreaking work that explores nuanced levels of Zen sacred chants through the lens of Jazz. A first of its kind in the Jazz canon, Manasia pioneers the intersection of Zen texts like Song of the Jeweled Mirror of Awareness, Nenju, and Kon Ro Man, and the complexities of bebop – deftly weaving compositions that further illuminate how Buddhism can resonate in our lives.
According to Jeremy Manasia: “Being so intertwined in the liturgy practice at the Village Zendo, and hearing these melodies over and over, I always felt I would eventually work on a project like this.
A few summers ago, Sensei Joshin O’Hara Sensei asked me if I could record a piano improv version of the Song of the Jeweled Mirror for a slide show. I liked all the places one could go musically with that one simple melody. That was when the spark came to begin writing. I picked the liturgical areas that incorporated melody, not just monotone chanting, and began to find ways to rework these melodic fragments harmonically, and rhythmically. The idea was to create something that allowed the musicians to express themselves freely. This is the most important aspect of the performances in the Sutra Book: it connects the spirit of jazz with the spirit of Zen – a liberated expressiveness.” Founded in 1986 under the leadership of Roshi Enkyo O'Hara and Sensei Barbara Joshin O'Hara, the Village Zendo has created a sanctuary for New Yorkers – many of whom are inspired to authentically continue the Zen tradition while keeping it contemporary and relevant to today’s world. Teachers like Jeremey Manasia exemplify the Village Zendo's diversity and deep commitment to practice.
About Jeremey Tokuyu Manasia: recording artist, composer, bandleader, and educator Manasia has produced six records and 40 Jazz compositions. An international performer, Manasia has worked with many jazz luminaries, including Gary Bartz, Al Foster, Jimmy Heath, Eddie Gomez, Louis Hayes, Javon Jackson, Willie Jones III, Peter Bernstein and Jimmy Cobb. Manasia is a longstanding favorite at the Village Vanguard, Smalls, Mezzrow, Smoke, Dizzy’s and the Iridium. In addition to his 6 releases as a band leader, Manasia has appeared on more than 20 records as a featured artist, most recently “For You” – Javon Jackson, and “Art” – Ayumi Kokestsu. His work has been recognized in several competitions – most notably, Jazz in the Thelonious Monk Competition, the Great American Jazz Piano Competition, and the American Pianists Association Jazz Piano Competition.
The Village Zendo The Village Zendo is a Zen community in the heart of downtown New York City. Drawing from the traditions of Soto and Rinzai Zen, the Village Zendo was given the Japanese name Dotoku-ji – which means True Expression Temple. The rich diversity of our sangha embodies this namesake as we explore how Zen relates to our daily lives through all forms of the arts, social action, and traditional Zen studies.
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