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Michael Formanek Quartet, Vilnius Oct 14,2012

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Joined: 22 Dec 2010
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    Posted: 15 Oct 2012 at 2:39am
Michael Formanek Quartet played yesterday night's gig (October 14) here in Vilnius as part of their second ECM album "Small Places" support tour. To be honest main surprise was actually it was not quartet but drumless trio, Gerald Cleaver didn't participate because of health problems.

Night opener was French project La Campagnie des Musiques Our - drummer Denis Charolles lead quartet of reeds trio and drummer. Denis Charolles is probably better known by his collaboration with great French guiatrist Marc Ducret. During their show last night French quartet demonstarted quite a funny free mix of everything, quite raw and bulky though. It's obvious that they are not a regular playing band but just project, playing for some events - musicianship of for skilled musicians sounded often as spontatnic improv going nowhere, not surprise few evergreen tunes and French melancholic songs themes sounded much better if not adventurous.

Second concert's part from very first sounds showed there wil play musicians of seriously higher caliber. For sure big disappoitment was to see and hear trio instead of quartet, and for big part of their show one can feel musicians themselves weren't very comfortable with unplanned band's format. 

To be honest, my main interest coming to this gig was to see one of my modern sax hero Tim Berne. I really like him, mostly by his solo albums, including most fresh debut for ECM. But at the end of the day I realize that being the trio of equally skilled and very competent players pianist Craig Taborn was the musician who stole the show. 

Musical program was mostly based on Formanek Quartet's very fresh ECM album "Small Places", released on ECM just at the end of September. I didn't hear album itself so it's impossible to compare, but their concert's sound was absolutely same as you hear on ECM albums - clear,quite sterile,well calculated and quite emotionless. And extremely professional. All three musicians had enough space for soloing, but few Taborn's piano very fast and very complex explosive improvs were real diamonds of this night. 

Probably because of unplanned band's formant it looked musicians didn't feel very comfortable big part of the concert, only near the end they became freer and the music sounded not so formal. It was really interesting to see Tim Berne playing live and to ensure how great sax player he is, but most obviously participation just as a member of Formanek Quartet bring lot of limitation on his own musicianship: during all gig he demonstarted only one really free improv,which burned like a spark over well balanced that night's sound, and Tim returned to his regular role - being just a member of the band. For sure to enjoy his music in full one need to see his own show.

All in all - great concert of highest level musicians, real heaven for ECM sound fans. It would be really interesting to hear them playing in full size quartet.

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Joined: 22 Sep 2012
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BlueNote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Oct 2012 at 7:11am
I love it when I see names like Formanek or Cermak. Those people are clearly descendants of Czech imigrants. :))
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