MICHAEL FORMANEK

Avant-Garde Jazz / 21st Century Modern / Third Stream • United States
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Michael Formanek (born May 7, 1958) is an American jazz bassist born in San Francisco, California and associated with the jazz scene in New York City.

In the 1980s, Formanek worked as a sideman with Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Dave Liebman, Fred Hersch, and Attila Zoller. His debut release as a leader was 1990's Wide Open Spaces, featuring saxophonist Greg Osby, violinist Mark Feldman, guitarist Wayne Krantz, and drummer Jeff Hirshfield. In 1992 he released Extended Animation with the same ensemble, except with Tim Berne replacing Osby on sax.

In 1993 Formanek, Berne, and Hirshfield recorded as a trio on the album Loose cannon. Following this, Formanek led the septet of himself, Berne, trumpeter Dave Douglas, reed player Marty Ehrlich, trombonist Kuumba Frank Lacy, drummer Marvin Smith, and pianist Salvatore Bonafede. That same year, Formanek began playing with Berne's ensemble Bloodcount through the end of the decade, on the releases
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MICHAEL FORMANEK Discography

MICHAEL FORMANEK albums / top albums

MICHAEL FORMANEK Wide Open Spaces album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Wide Open Spaces
Avant-Garde Jazz 1990
MICHAEL FORMANEK Extended Animation album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Extended Animation
Avant-Garde Jazz 1992
MICHAEL FORMANEK Loose Cannon [with Tim Berne and Jeff Hirshfield] album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Loose Cannon [with Tim Berne and Jeff Hirshfield]
Avant-Garde Jazz 1993
MICHAEL FORMANEK Low Profile album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Low Profile
Avant-Garde Jazz 1994
MICHAEL FORMANEK Nature of the Beast album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Nature of the Beast
Avant-Garde Jazz 1997
MICHAEL FORMANEK Am I Bothering You? album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Am I Bothering You?
Avant-Garde Jazz 1998
MICHAEL FORMANEK The Rub and Spare Change album cover 3.50 | 2 ratings
The Rub and Spare Change
21st Century Modern 2010
MICHAEL FORMANEK Small Places album cover 3.98 | 2 ratings
Small Places
21st Century Modern 2012
MICHAEL FORMANEK Michael Formanek / Ensemble Kolossus ‎: The Distance album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Michael Formanek / Ensemble Kolossus ‎: The Distance
Third Stream 2016
MICHAEL FORMANEK Michael Formanek Elusion Quartet : Time Like This album cover 3.50 | 2 ratings
Michael Formanek Elusion Quartet : Time Like This
21st Century Modern 2018
MICHAEL FORMANEK Very Practical Trio : Even Better album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Very Practical Trio : Even Better
21st Century Modern 2019

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MICHAEL FORMANEK Reviews

MICHAEL FORMANEK Small Places

Album · 2012 · 21st Century Modern
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snobb
NY-based bassist Michael Formanek's debut on German ECM label was released two years ago and being really strong album didn't make a lot of fuss.It looks that ECM tested the market with a bit more adventurous release than their regular ones, and they stayed happy with the results.

Second album quartet released with same line-up, but this time release was supported by US-European tour (who said that jazz is dead if even such non-commercial releases are supported by transcontinental tours?)and big campaign in media. Only month has gone from the day of album's release, but I saw lot of (generally very positive) reviews in European and especially UK press.So - what do we have here?

Shortly, music here is more or less same as on previous album. Same - but better. Opener "Small Faces" is one of most memorable album's composition,collective work with excellent communication between musicians. The difference one can hear from very beginning is that this album, being a classic ECM release, is a bit freer and a bit more adventurous. It looks after some success of first Formanek's album on ECM label decided their listeners wouldn't be shocked by some doze of adventure and let the musicians do not limit themselves by too safe musicianship.

Second song "Pong" is almost hit - catchy melody with bright,very lively Tim Berne sax melodic line. Before recording of this album musicians played lot of gigs together so communication level is almost telepathic. Each quartet member has enough place for improvisation inside of quite framed compositions structures.

My first meeting with this album's music for me happened during album presentation concert and it was really interesting to see and hear, how live musicianship was close to studio sound, even sound balance and atmosphere was "typical ECM". I expected to see legendary Tim Berne's sax improvs, but was slightly disappointed - on this album he is just one of quartet members and perfectly plays this role.Probably biggest surprise was fast,very technical and quite brave pianist Craig Taborn explosive improvisations. Not only during concert but on recording as well he's probably main hero.

Album's compositions notably differ one from another, but are really related by musical concept. American jazz tradition gets European chamber feeling and result is quite elegant and accessible from first impression, but multilayered and far not so simple music, after every repeated listening you'll find new interesting moments here.

Adventurous jazz not always is dissonant,structureless or screaming. Recommended!

MICHAEL FORMANEK The Rub and Spare Change

Album · 2010 · 21st Century Modern
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
snobb
San Francisco-born and NYC-based bassist Michael Formanek started his career at 19 being a member of Tony Williams Lifetime. During 80s he worked with such great jazz musicians as Freddie Hubbard, Stan Getz and Joe Henderson among many others. Starting from 1990 he regularly releases albums as leader, generally on European labels.His most longstanding collaborator is creative sax player Tim Berne,playing almost on every Formanek's album. At the same time Formanek for decades is a member of different Berne's projects.

"The Rub and Spare Change" is first Formanek album in 12 years and his debut on prestigious German label ECM. The other members of his quartet are Tim Berne,drummer Gerald Cleaver and pianist Craig Taborn. All musicians are well established American creative artists, but what is most important - they have excellent communication when playing together. Formanek during all his career is known as talented composer and this album is not exception - music here represents perfect balance between composed and improvised, with some catchy tunes, lot of poly-rhythmic changes, chamber elegance of ECM tradition and some controlled solo explosions.

Real release's hero is pianist Craig Taborn, bringing most of lively moods and freer atmosphere, Tim Berne sounds more solid than adventurous, differently from his solo releases. Music in all leaves very pleasant feeling - successful mix of beautiful and creative, chamber and risky, elegant and adventurous. Not an album for fans of screaming sax and drastic experimentation, more creative ECM release, trying to find new, more adventurous and creative ground after some too safe decades. Easy accessible from first look, this album requires repeated listening. Could be recommended for everyone coming from more accessible ECM contemporary jazz recordings and searching a bit more adventurous quality listening.

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