The story of Boston reedist Joe Maneri is a classic tale of artistic perseverance. In the mid-40s Maneri was playing jazz clarinet in a group that was experimenting with 12-tone improvisation when Josef Schmid–a composer, conductor, violinist, keyboardist, and former student of Alban Berg–walked in on a performance. Schmid would become Maneri’s mentor; from him Maneri learned composition and theory and a lot about the work of Schoenberg, which provided an odd complement to his knowledge of jazz and the Greek folk music he often played to pay the bills. He also added piano and tenor and alto saxophone to his arsenal. By the early 60s he was accomplished enough that the Boston Symphony Orchestra had commissioned him to write a piano concerto and Gunther Schuller was trying to get him signed to Atlantic Records. But the BSO found his piece too difficult to play, and it didn’t receive its premiere for 20 years; a demo album he cut for Atlantic in 1963 was finally released last year by John Zorn’s Avant label as Paniots Nine. Maneri spent the 70s and 80s as a professor at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he taught a 72-note microtonal music system of his own design, but prodded by his son Mat–a string player who works regularly with pianist Matthew Shipp and guitarist Joe Morris and is a fine bandleader in his own right–he’s returned to the clubs in the 90s. The British label Leo issued a few spectacular records by him and he’s subsequently released music on Hatology and ECM and toured abroad to great critical acclaim. Last year’s In Full Cry is as gorgeous as it gets. On his interpretation of the standard “Tenderly,” for example, his saxophone sobs the melody; his quavery expressionism recalls the breathy vibrato of Coleman Hawkins without reaching into the blues. And when he plays with Mat, a devoted disciple of his music, their lines snake and arch around each other almost telepathically. The Maneris will be joined here by regular collaborator Randy Peterson on drums. This is Joe’s local debut. Saturday, 2 PM, Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; 312-744-6630. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Joe Maneri photo by Francesca Patella.