All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Michael Formanek

Michael Formanek

One marker of bassist Michael Formanek's creativity and versatility is the range of distinguished musicians of several generations he's worked with. While still a teenager in the 1970s he toured with drummer Tony Williams and saxophonist Joe Henderson; starting in the '80s he played long stints with Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Fred Hersch and Freddie Hubbard. (As a callback to those days, Formanek recorded with hardbop pianist Freddie Redd in 2013). The bassist has played a pivotal role on New York's creative jazz scene going back to the '90s when he notably led his own quintet and played in Tim Berne's barnstorming quartet Bloodcount. Nowadays Formanek's in the co-op Thumbscrew with Brooklyn guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Tomas Fujiwara.

Formanek is also a composer and leader of various bands. His principal recording and international touring vehicle is his acclaimed quartet with Tim Berne on alto saxophone, Craig Taborn on piano and Gerald Cleaver on drums, which records for ECM; 2010's The Rub and Spare Change and 2012's Small Places both earned coveted five-star raves in Down Beat. Formanek writes, and the quartet plays, compositions of great rhythmic sophistication that unfold in a natural sounding way – challenging music the players make sound like lyrical free expression. His occasional groups include the 18-piece all-star Ensemble Kolossus, roping in many New York improvisers he works with. Ensemble Kolossus recorded their first CD of all Formanek originals for the prestigious ECM label in December of 2014. The CD, The Distance was released in February 2016 and in addition to numerous other accolades also received a five-star review in Downbeat!

Read more

Tags

Album Review
Multiple Reviews
Album Review
Extended Analysis
Album Review
Read more articles
“…a true virtuoso bassist” —Pulse

“the formidable American bass-player Michael Formanek’s solo set ranks with the great solo bass performances.” —The Guardian

“…deep propulsion, big beefy tone, a strong sense of line, individuality expressed through avoiding the expected.” —Village Voice

“Mr. Formanek, on bass, has solid intonation, riffing hard and engaging horns and drums in genuinely melodic counterpoint.” —New York Times

“Formanek is a musician first: his wonderful technique is always subjugated to the higher goal of making interesting art…Formanek is riveting.” —Cadence

“… a sound player who articulates with precision, produces a big, solid tone, and boasts rock-steady time.” —Bass Player

“ On his 1997 solo recital Am I Bothering You? he compresses his conception, finding insinuating melodies and hypnotic timbres, developing them thematically, always with amiable gusto and impeccable technique.” —Downbeat

“Formanek’s virtuosic command of his bass, which allowed him to simultaneously pluck walking lines and bow resonant accents, sometimes made him sound like two players at once .” —The Chicago Tribune

“...Formanek combines rhythmic muscle and lyrical fluidity - and endless creativity.“ —Chicago Sun Times

“Formanek's sound never failed to glow, and his rhythmic sense ensured a conversational flow.” —The Boston Globe

Photos

Albums

Turnpike Diaries...

Self Produced
2021

buy

Dyads

Out Of Your Head Records
2021

buy

Everything Happens To...

BAG Production
2021

buy

The Anthony Braxton...

Cuneiform Records
2020

buy

Artlessly Falling

Firehouse 12 Records
2020

buy

Pedernal

Relative Pitch Records
2020

buy

Pedernal

From: Pedernal
By Michael Formanek

Walls and Roses

From: Artlessly Falling
By Michael Formanek

Similar

Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.