Named after The Muffins' 1978 debut album - one of the essential Canterbury-related releases - Manna/Mirage is the newest project by founding member Dave Newhouse (one of the band's two woodwind players). Not surprisingly, fellow Muffins Billy Swann and Paul Sears are also on board, as well as Newhouse’s son George, guitarist Mark Stanley (of Chainsaw Jazz and Thee Maximalists), and newest recruit, Steve Pastena, on French horn. The ensemble's debut, released in the autumn of 2015, bears the title of Blue Dogs - a title inspired by a painting by artist and RIO/Canterbury fan Gonzalo Fuentes Riquelme (aka Guerrilla Graphics), which graces the CD cover. The album was mixed and produced by none other than Mike Potter of Orion Studios - probably the most important venue for progressive music in the US, and the setting of The Muffins' most recent performance to date, in May 2015.
More stripped back and raw than her last release, this hauntingly beautiful album always retains her trademarks - emotive, imagery-rich songs, exquisite piano and guitar arrangements and supremely expressive vocals.
Some of Grant Green's hottest moments as a jazz-funk bandleader came on his live records of the era, which were filled with extended, smoking grooves and gritty ensemble interplay. Live at the Lighthouse makes a fine companion piece to the excellent Alive!, though there are some subtle differences which give the album its own distinct flavor. For starters, the average track length is even greater, with four of the six jams clocking in at over 12 minutes. That makes it easy to get lost in the grooves as the musicians ride and work them over.