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Guybrush 05-20-2021 05:46 AM

Karen Mantler
Hey there jazz-hungry banterers,

So for what's amounting to a number of years now, I've been a fan of the relatively unknown artist Karen Mantler, daughter of Carla Bley and Michael Mantler.

She mostly sings and plays piano or harmonica and has a lovely, self-deprecating and tragically funny stage personae. Or real life personae? A lot of her songs are about various things that go wrong or that she finds hard.

Most of her discography is mostly fusion and her early albums loosely follow a story arc of how she has a cat named Arnold (My Cat Arnold, 1989) which then gets sick (Karen Mantler And Her Cat Get the Flu, 1990) which unfortunately leads to Arnolds' death (Farewell, 1996) and her quest to find a new pet (Karen Mantler's Pet Project, 2000).

Since then, she has made one album (Business is bad, 2014) seemingly not related to pet cat Arnold which is more in a minimal jazz direction, just her and her instruments plus a relatively non-intrusive bass and guitar. It's a combination that works GREAT and the album's been one of my favorites since it came out.

Here's her performing the title track.

She's also known as a collaborator with Robert Wyatt (Cuckooland, 2003, also involved with live performances of RW's music) and claims to have been an occasional waiter when music didn't work out for her.

She's useless and great at the same time. Anyone else here a fan?


I am eagerly awaiting her next release of which there's been no word afaik. Hope she's not back to waitressing.

Guybrush 05-20-2021 05:49 AM

For earlier material, here's her song My Cat Arnold, a rerecorded version from Karen Mantler's Pet Project.

Note the minimal and clever 2-note musical motif calling the name Arnold. She's a genius.

Guybrush 05-20-2021 05:51 AM

Finally, I also felt like posting this slightly funny, beautiful and heartfelt favourite from Business Is Bad, here played with her trio:

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