Two-Out CD review of Mike Nock and Roger Manins by John McBeath


Album:  Two Out
Artist:    Mike Nock and Roger Manins
Release Date: May 2015
Label:    FWM Records

Buy Album

It’s no surprise that these two jazz titans, pianist Mike Nock and saxophonist Roger Manins, have recorded a duo album. They’re both New Zealand born – Manins lives in Auckland, Nock in Sydney – and are well-established musicians and teachers. They both have lived and played successfully internationally and worked together extensively.

Each is known for their ground-breaking, cutting-edge work. What is surprising is this album’s content: eleven well-known standards delivered in ways that are accessibly melodic, yet interpretative, and at times intensely moving.

The opener Falling In Love With Love sets the scene with a highly expressive rendition of the song before Manins’s solo works through the changes with a flow of eloquent ideas, underpinned by Nock’s substantial chords and ornamentation. The piano solo cleverly echoes Manin and then both embark on a contrapuntal chorus before the tuneful closer ending in Nock’s huge stabbing chord.

A collection of unexpected numbers reaches an astonishing level with the Patsy Cline hit of the fifties Tennessee Waltz, where Manin’s interpretation moves into a blues-inflected waltz of soulful proportions and the piano’s supply of unpredictable chords evolves as a flowing solo dissertation of classic proportions. Never has such a trite country and western piece been given such a remarkable re-birth.

The appeal of this album lies beyond just the nostalgia of these well-known songs, but in the original way they are played, preserving their original, often romantic, aspects in a style of superlative expression and sensitivity. Manin’s tenor evokes aspects of Lester Young and Joe Lovano, while Nock is reminiscent of Bill Evans.

For just over 24 years I have been a freelance writer, publishing in that time a wide variety of genres: news items, live concert reviews, travel articles, features, personality profiles, and CD and book reviews. I have written for various in-flight magazines, The Adelaide Review, The Republican, The Bulletin, The Australian, The Advertiser, The Melbourne Herald Sun and several regional newspapers. In 1994 I won a national travel-writing prize sponsored by The Australian newspaper, which led to my writing regularly for that paper. Since 2003 I have been jazz critic for The Advertiser and The Australian newspapers, on average contributing weekly to each paper. In 2005 I won a national Jazz Writing Competition sponsored by the Wangaratta Jazz Festival.