In December of 2014, Manley collaborated with Garrett Ammon of the contemporary ballet company Wonderbound for a third time in their creation of Winter. This sold out production immersed audience members in an experience which enticed all five senses; capturing the essence and complexity of the season. Manley worked closely with Denver based musicians Jean-Luc Davis, Ben Gallagher, Dean Hirschfield, April Johannesen, and Emily Rose Lewis to develop unique and captivating arrangements of the music which were later captured in a studio album (released in November 2015). An encore performance of Winter was presented in December 2015.
A gothic folktale
Early in 2013, Manley and Ammon embarked on a new collaboration entitled A Gothic Folktale, this time partnering with the talented mentalist Professor Phelyx. The vision for this new work was inspired by magical realism, incorporating tarot as its core theme. Manley assembled for the first time, what would become his core group of musicians (Jean-Luc Davis, Ben Gallagher, Dean Hirschfield, April Johannesen, and Emily Rose Lewis) and together they transformed Manley's vision into a haunting listening experience. In October 2013, A Gothic Folktale was brought to the stage, receiving critical acclaims, and the collaboration was featured on Rocky Mountain PBS. Michael Mulhern of Presenting Denver raved “The amazing band, led by Jesse Manley with original music for the show was the cherry on the top of the cake and the live aspect added such a wonderful quality to the production.” Live recordings of the final two performances were produced into an album which was released on April 26, 2014.
A path through the dark
Manley completed his second effort; an EP entitled A Path through the Dark, in November 2012 collaborating with many of Denver’s most talented musicians and production artists including Jeff Rady (Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angels and Strange Americans), David Thomas Bailey (FaceMan), Dean Hirschfield (FaceMan), Shawn King (Devotchka), Scott McCormick (Boulder Acoustic Society and Lee Avenue), Colin Bricker (Mighty Fine Productions), and many more. The album was added into rotation at over 110 radio stations across the United States, including a Top 30 charting at WALT in Davidson, NC.
Just prior to the official release of Manley's debut album, Devil's Red, Garrett Ammon created a ballet entitled Vagabond Hill using several selections from the album. The ballet featured the eerie shadow puppetry of Catherine Strecker, and Manley performed live onstage with the dancers.
Manley’s first album, Devil’s Red, was created in collaboration with Dave Willey (Hamster Theatre) and released in April 2011. Devil’s Red received energetic praise from local, national, and international critics, including a feature on the music website Epitonic.