Michael and Peter Formanek: Dyads

John Sharpe By

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Michael and Peter Formanek: Dyads
There can be few instances where a parent-offspring hook-up has proved as potent as Dyads by bassist Michael Formanek and his reedman son Peter. With not a hint of featherbedding, the pair interact as equals on a 72-minute program which alternates six charts penned by both with seven collective inventions. While the bassist has amassed a hefty and distinguished discography, both as leader and go-to sideman for the likes of Tim Berne, Mary Halvorson and Susan Alcorn, this is only the 25 year-old reedman's second release after an EP as part of Galen Bundy's Project 206.

The exposed format allows an in-depth appreciation of Formanek senior's rich brawny tone and dexterous articulation, made easier by a clear recording. With formative influences such as Berne and Chris Speed, his son inhabits comparable terrain, adopting a warm woody sonority on clarinet, while being sweetly bracing on tenor saxophone, notwithstanding the occasional stretch into expressive overblowing.

As a result, there is interest at the micro scale, with both constantly modulating timbre and attack, as well as the macro where, having been playing together since before Peter began school, the symbiosis and intricate braiding of their lines should perhaps be a banker, but is by no means any less impressive for being anticipated.

The saxophonist's "Two, Not One" gets the album off to a great start, as tenor sax wraps around the bassist's wiry pizzicato in an angularly strutting stream which incorporates brief digressions by both. He is also responsible for the urgent throbbing "After You," with its appropriately fugue-like theme and similarly interwoven parts.

Such off-the-cuff structural elements also crop up in some of the improvs, like the wide ranging "DNA" where, at one point, the bassist extemporizes a riff which the saxophonist embellishes, giving them a cohesive feel without sacrificing the freshness. They close the set with "That Was Then," reprised from the bassist's Time Like This (Intakt, 2019) to put a vibrantly emphatic cap on a delightful outing.

Track Listing

Two, Not One; Wandering, Searching, Digging, Uncovering; After You; The Woods; Push Comes To Shove; How Was The Drive?; There's No There There; Hoarse Syrinx; Wavy Lines; Hurricane; Ballad Of The Weak; DNA; That Was Then.


Michael Formanek: bass; Peter Formanek: saxophone, tenor.

Album information

Title: Dyads | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Out Of Your Head Records

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