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LIVE FROM NEW YORK

Live From New York: Mara Rosenbloom, Thumbscrew & Nation Beat

Read "Live From New York: Mara Rosenbloom, Thumbscrew & Nation Beat" reviewed by Martin Longley

Mara Rosenbloom/Melanie Dyer/Ken Filiano/Rashaan Carter Soup & Sound April 10, 2019 It's an old tradition, sometimes out of necessity, for artists to host low-key gigs in their own homes. The hyper-inventive and often powerfully percussive drummer Andrew Drury has been offering soup and sound for quite a while now, opening his front door in Lefferts Avenue, Brooklyn, to improvised music enthusiasts on a monthly basis. Not so surprisingly, Drury calls the series Soup & ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Michael Formanek Elusion Quartet: Time Like This

Read "Time Like This" reviewed by John Sharpe

Bassist Michael Formanek has become a major presence on the NYC scene over the last decade, both as a forward-looking bandleader and a sideman. His two small-group offerings, The Rub And Spare Change (2010) and Small Places (2012), both on ECM, were justly feted and lead to the acclaimed big-band set The Distance (2016) by his Ensemble Kolossos which cemented his reputation. On Time Like This he rings the changes on the cast as he debuts his new ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Michael Formanek Elusion Quartet: Time Like This

Read "Time Like This" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

In the olden days of jazz, an album consisting of trailblazing instrumentalists akin to these performers may have been billed as Michael Formanek and his All-Stars instead of a band moniker. Nonetheless, the Elusion Quartet lives up to preconceived or implicit expectations. Consequently, the heavyweight lineup imparts an abundance of mood-eliciting and symmetrical works, along with other components for our psyche's to nibble on. As a premise for this session, Michael Formanek says he sought “a more ...

YEAR IN REVIEW

Mark Sullivan's Best Releases of 2016

Read "Mark Sullivan's Best Releases of 2016" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

So many reviews this year, in so many genres, that I've split them into two categories--"Jazz" and “Latin, World & Experimental"--in response to the feeling that I was trying to compare apples to oranges. They're presented in more or less chronological order, and the guiding principle was whether I had a clear memory of the recording even before I went back to listen to it again. A few of these were drawn from Multiple Review articles, and I cheated a ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Michael Formanek - Tomas Fujiwara - Mary Halvorson: Convallaria

Read "Convallaria" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

Three hyper-progressive improvisational jazz and cross-genre artists push the envelope again on their 2nd album for Cuneiform Records. The musicians' busy schedules via numerous and largely prolific solo and group-based projects have rocketed their respective artistries into the limelight, especially ECM recording artist Michael Formanek (bass) who for the past several decades has become a household name within these circles. Nonetheless, it's an adventurous exploration, led by guitarist Mary Halvorson's signature phraseology, comprised of extended lines that vaporize into the ...

LIVE FROM NEW YORK

Barry Adamson, Michael Formanek, Elliott Sharp & Rokia Traoré

Read "Barry Adamson, Michael Formanek, Elliott Sharp & Rokia Traoré" reviewed by Martin Longley

Barry Adamson Rough Trade March 21, 2016 Hot on the heels of SXSW in Austin, Barry Adamson turned up for a lower-key solo show at NYC's Rough Trade store. His reputation was made as a bassist with Magazine and Nick Cave, but in the three decades since then he's had ample time to build up a persona as composer of movie soundtracks to imaginary flicks. Not that this is his only mission, but ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Michael Formanek’s Ensemble Kolossus: The Distance

Read "The Distance" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Here's a surprise. Bassist Michael Formanek is probably best known for his two recent ECM Records dates, Rub and Spare Change (2010) and Small Places, a couple of modernistic quartet sessions featuring saxophonist Tim Berne, pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver. These are tight and intense sets, architecturally solid, free-like outings that may have helped bring Taborn and Berne into the ECM fold for their own leader slots on the label. With a modest--in terms of numbers--discography as a ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Michael Formanek’s Ensemble Kolossus: The Distance

Read "The Distance" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

Jazz composers writing for large ensembles have often avoided the label “big band," going back to the Jazz Composer's Orchestra in the '60s, not to mention Sun Ra's Arkestra and the many Swing Era bands that called themselves orchestras. It's an understandable choice, given the unavoidable--and potentially limiting--stylistic associations that come with the big band name. Bassist/composer Michael Formanek playfully calls this 18-piece group Ensemble Kolossus: it represents a bold creative leap forward from his previous quartet recordings Small Places ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Winter Jazzfest 2016: ECM Records Stage

Read "Winter Jazzfest 2016: ECM Records Stage" reviewed by Bob Kenselaar

Winter Jazzfest--ECM Records Stage The New School Tishman Auditorium New York, NY January 15 & 16, 2016 There's a very modern feel at the Tishman Auditorium at The New School University Center, the site for a two-night showcase for ECM Records at the 2016 Winter Jazzfest--with the Escher-esque stairs that you pass on the way in, the broad, open space of the stage, its huge screen backdrop, and the light blonde bamboo walls. You ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Michael Formanek: Small Places

Read "Michael Formanek: Small Places" reviewed by Geannine Reid

Double bassist/composer Michael Formanek releases Small Places, his follow-up to his ECM debut as a leader, The Rub and Spare Change. The new album features the same band of long- time musicians consisting of: Formanek on bass, saxophonist Tim Berne, pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleavor's complex rhythm cycles. Small Places is a continuation of the creative direction the quartet's first release established with a seamless blending of composed material and improvisations through creative forms and pulses.

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Michael Formanek: Small Places

Read "Small Places" reviewed by Hrayr Attarian

Bassist Michael Formanek's second release on ECM, Small Places, is an impassioned and gratifying album. Working with the same quartet as his first, The Rub and Spare Change (ECM, 2010), the music here has crystallized and matured further as the familiarity and camaraderie among the artists has grown. Although The Rub was freer and hence more challenging, Small Places is a bit more accessible without losing its edge. The centerpiece of the disc, “Parting Ways," is a ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Michael Formanek: Small Places

Read "Small Places" reviewed by Troy Collins

Small Places is bassist Michael Formanek's follow-up to 2009's The Rub and Spare Change, his critically acclaimed ECM debut as a leader. While Formanek's sophomore effort for the label features the same high profile sidemen, it differs in that the lineup rehearsed the material live before heading into the studio with producer Manfred Eicher, where every nuance of the working group's finely-honed rapport was captured in crystalline clarity.Seamlessly blending the composed and improvised, alto saxophonist Tim Berne, pianist ...