One of the leading violists of his generation, Mat Maneri is an individualistic soloist and composer, known for his forward-thinking approach to modern creative jazz, free improvisation, and avant-garde music. Maneri first gained attention in the early '90s playing alongside his father, saxophonist Joe Maneri, and has worked over the years with such like-minded artists as Matthew Shipp, Joe Morris, and Craig Taborn, among others. As a leader, he has also issued his own small-group albums like 1999's So What, 2000's Blue Decco, and 2003's For Consequence. He has also collaborated on numerous projects including 2017's Sounding Tears with Lucian Ban and Evan Parker, and 2018's Strings 1 with saxophonist Ivo Perelman.
The son of microtonal saxophonist and clarinetist Joe Maneri, Mat Maneri was born in 1968 in Brooklyn, and began playing the violin at age five. A skilled player by his teens, Maneri excelled at Walnut Hills High School and New England Conservatory, before leaving school early to focus on music. Privately, he studied Baroque classical music with Juilliard String Quartet founding member Robert Koff, and took lessons with noted jazz bassist Miroslav Vitous. He made his recorded debut in the late '80s playing on trio albums with his father like 1989's Kalavinka with percussionist Masashi Harada, and the 1995 ECM date Three Men Walking with guitarist Joe Morris. There were also early projects with pianist Matthew Shipp, the Indian-fusion ensemble Natraj, pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, and others.
In 1998, he made his debut as leader on the quintet session Acceptance, which featured an appearance from his father, as well as trombonist Gary Valente, guitarist John Dirac, bassist Ed Schuller, and drummer Randy Peterson. He also began leading his own trio with pianist Shipp, and issuing albums like 1998's So What, 1999's Fifty-One Sorrows. It was during this period that he adopted the viola as his primary instrument of choice; although he still plays a number of instruments including the violin, the electric violin, and the baritone violin.