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Formanek, Michael Very Practical Trio (w/ Tim Berne / Mary Halvorson): Even Better (Intakt)

New York bassist Michael Formanek's trio with Tim Berne on alto saxophone and Mary Halvorson on guitar, embraces free music with strong melodic intent through Formanek's solid compositions, providing interesting structures in time and texture through sublimely complex and sinuous pieces that lead to rewarding resolutions of profoundly authoritative improvisation.
 

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product information:


UPC: 7640120193355

Label: Intakt
Catalog ID: INT335
Squidco Product Code: 28102

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2019
Country: Switzerland
Packaging: Jewel Case
Recorded at Oktaven Audio, Mount Vernon, New York, on February 20th, 2019 by Ryan Streber, and assisted by Teng Chen.


Personnel:

Tim Berne-alto saxophone

Michael Formanek-bass

Mary Halvorson-guitar

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Artist Biographies:

"Tim Berne (born 1954) is an American jazz saxophonist and composer.

Described by critic Thom Jurek as commanding "considerable power as a composer and ... frighteningly deft ability as a soloist", Berne has composed and performed prolifically since the 1980s. His mainstream success has been limited Berne recorded two albums for Columbia Records but he has released a significant body of work over the decades spanning dozens of critically acclaimed recordings.

Though Berne was a music fan, he had no interest in playing a musical instrument until he was in college, when he purchased an alto saxophone. He was more interested in rhythm and blues music Stax records releases and Aretha Franklin, especially until he heard Julius Hemphill's 1972 recording Dogon A.D.

Hemphill was known for his integration of soul music and funk with free jazz. Berne moved to New York City in 1974. There Berne took lessons from Hemphill, and later recorded with him.

In 1979, Berne founded Empire Records to release his own recordings. He recorded Fulton Street Maul and Sanctified Dreams for Columbia Records, which generated some discussion and controversy, due in part to the fact that Berne's music had little in common with the neo-tradionalist hard bop performers prominent in the mid-1980s. Some regarded Berne's music as uncommercial. In the late 1990s Berne founded Screwgun Records, which has released his own recordings, as well as others' music.

Beyond his recordings as a bandleader, Berne has recorded and/or performed with guitarist Bill Frisell, avant-garde composer/sax player John Zorn, violinist Mat Maneri, guitarist David Torn, cellist Hank Roberts, trumpet player Herb Robertson, the ARTE Quartett and as a member of the cooperative trio Miniature.

Recent years have found Berne performing in several different groups with drummers Tom Rainey and Gerald Cleaver, keyboardist Craig Taborn, bassists Michael Formanek and Drew Gress, guitarists Marc Ducret and David Torn, and reeds player Chris Speed.

He is one-third of the group BBC (Berne/Black/Cline) along with drummer Jim Black and Nels Cline of Wilco. The group released a critically acclaimed album called The Veil in 2011.

Berne's complex, multi-section compositions are often quite lengthy; twenty- to thirty-minute pieces are not unusual. One critic wrote that Berne's long songs "don't grow tiresome. The musicians are brilliantly creative and experienced enough not to get lost in all the room provided by these large time frames." "

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Berne)
2/17/2020

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"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!

Formanek's other recordings as leader include Wide Open Spaces and Extended Animation for quintet and Low Profile and Nature of the Beast for seven players (all on Enja), and the solo album Am I Bothering You? (Screwgun). Mirage (Clean Feed) is by the occasional improvising trio of Formanek, tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin and pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn. Thumbscrew's 2014 debut is on Cuneiform Records. Michael Formanek has also made dozens of recordings as sideman, for among others Dave Ballou, Tim Berne, Jane Ira Bloom, Dave Burrell, Harold Danko, Marty Ehrlich, Tomas Fujiwara, Gary Thomas and Jack Walrath.

As composer of works for ensembles from duo to mixed jazz and classical orchestra, Michael Formanek has received institutional support from Chamber Music America, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Peabody Conservatory, the Maryland State Arts Council and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. As an educator, Formanek teaches bass and other jazz courses, and leads the Jazz Ensemble at Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory."

-Michael Formanek Website (http://www.amibotheringyou.com/bio.html)
2/17/2020

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"One of improvised music's most in-demand guitarists, Mary Halvorson has been active in New York since 2002, following jazz studies at Wesleyan University and the New School. Critics have called her "a singular talent" (Lloyd Sachs, JazzTimes), "NYC's least-predictable improviser" (Howard Mandel, City Arts), "one of the most exciting and original guitarists in jazz-or otherwise" (Steve Dollar, Wall Street Journal), and "one of today's most formidable bandleaders" (Francis Davis, Village Voice). The Philadelphia City Paper's Shaun Brady adds, "Halvorson has been steadily reshaping the sound of jazz guitar in recent years with her elastic, sometimes-fluid, sometimes-shredding, wholly unique style."

After three years of study with visionary composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton, Ms. Halvorson became an active member of several of his bands, including his trio, septet and 12+1tet. To date, she appears on six of Mr. Braxton's recordings. Ms. Halvorson has also performed alongside iconic guitarist Marc Ribot, in his bands Sun Ship and The Young Philadelphians, and with the bassist Trevor Dunn in his Trio-Convulsant. Over the past decade she has worked with such diverse bandleaders as Tim Berne, Taylor Ho Bynum, Tomas Fujiwara, Ingrid Laubrock, Myra Melford, Jason Moran, Joe Morris, Tom Rainey and Mike Reed.

As a bandleader and composer, one of Ms. Halvorson's primary outlets is her longstanding trio, featuring bassist John Hébert and drummer Ches Smith. Since their 2008 debut album, Dragon's Head, the band has been recognized as a rising star jazz band by Downbeat Magazine for five consecutive years. Ms. Halvorson's quintet, which adds trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon to the trio, has released two critically acclaimed albums on the Firehouse 12 label: Saturn Sings and Bending Bridges. Most recently she has added two additional band members-tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and trombonist Jacob Garchik-to form a septet, featured on her 2013 release Illusionary Sea. Ms. Halvorson also co-leads a longstanding chamber-jazz duo with violist Jessica Pavone, the avant-rock band People and the collective ensembles Thumbscrew and Secret Keeper."

-Mary Halvorson Website (http://www.maryhalvorson.com/bio/)
2/17/2020

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
track listing:


1. Suckerpunch 5:52

2. Like Statues 7:01

3. Still Here 9:54

4. Implausible Deniability 8:23

5. Shattered 4:45

6. The Shifter 3:53

7. Apple and Snake 5:23

8. But Will It Float 4:39

9. Bomb the Cactus 2:17

10. Jade Visions 4:11
sample the album:








descriptions, reviews, &c.

"With his impressive artistic biography, Michael Formanek is one of the outstanding personalities of contemporary jazz as a composer, a bassist in ensembles and a soloist. He belongs to the circle of leading bassists and composers that inclucedes Charles Mingus, Dave Holland, Charlie Haden and Barry Guy.

Formanek's musical world, his immense experience, his knowledge of jazz tradition and the avantgarde, his ability and his charismatic appearance have a highly stimulating effect on the musicians of his bands. Following the release of his CD with the Elusion Quartet (with Kris Davis, Tony Malaby, Ches Smith) the first album from his new trio follows: Michael Formanek Very Practical Trio with saxophonist Tim Berne and guitarist Mary Halvorson."-Intakt Records



"The excellent bassist/composer Michael Formanek, whose musicality and metrical competence pair skillfully, puts together an exciting new trio with alto saxophonist Tim Berne and guitarist Mary Halvorson. The Very Practical Trio's first album, Even Better, features 10 tunes devised with aligned symmetries and diffuse obliqueness, causing a vortex of emotional impulses on the listener.

On top of the song lineup, "Suckerpunch" shines with dazzling energy and a sweeping tone quality. It kicks off with bass and guitar agreeing on a phrase that will serve as a groove along the road. Halvorson leaves the groove-making task to Formanek and joins Berne in shaping the curves and angles of the melody. Each musician then departs from this settled practice to interpose their own musical elements, integrating them into an organic, polyrhythmic whole. If the album opens with mightiness, then it closes with the tempered magic of Scott LaFaro's ballad "Jade Vision", whose limpid melody, ethereal rhythm, and delicious harmonic progression lift you up to an unclouded sky.

In its pungent interplay, the trio often combines agility, resilience, and serenity. "Like Statues", for example, fall into solemnity, even with Formanek hastening his pizzicato a little bit. The pace is negotiated when Berne starts improvising on top of Halvorson's decaying harmonizations, which, moments later, morph into a sui generis avant folk jazz statement. Conversely, "Still Here" embraces a cacophonous state that quickly evolves from controlled to rambunctious. A methodical rocking bass pedal mitigates the tension and the atmosphere is polished. Yet, Berne's pointy bursts, immune to any pace constraint, reveal as much body as elasticity.

In a similar way, the erudite rubato lament, "Shattered", exquisitely introduced by scintillating guitar and stimulated by Berne's Coltrane mannerisms in a later phase, contrasts with the itchy outcomes of "Bomb The Cactus", whose animated wall of sound is built by Halvorson's indie rock strumming, and "But Will It Float", a contrapuntal avant-garde crusade motivated by a courageous guitar ostinato and a structured bass groove.

Another paragon of the trio's polyvalence is "The Shifter", whose title is sufficiently elucidative for us to anticipate clever twists in shape and rhythm. In addition to an incessant tension and release, the tune also thrives with auspicious parallel movements and intense improvisatory moments from guitar and sax.

Always knowing where they are and what they want, the Very Practical Trio escapes common places with mastery."-Filipe Freitas, JazzTrail


Get additional information at Jazz Trail
Related Categories of Interest:


Intakt
Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
Trio Recordings
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
New in Improvised Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers



Other Releases With These Artists:
Illegal Crowns (Halvorson / Fujiwara / Delbecq / Ho Bynum)
The No-Nosed Puppet [VINYL]
(RogueArt)
Nabatov, Simon Quintet (w/ Malaby / Seabrook / Formanek / Cleaver)
Last Minute Theory
(Clean Feed)
Douglas, Dave
Showing Up / The Power of the Vote [7" VINYL]
(Greenleaf Music)
Torn, David / Tim Berne / Ches Smith
Sun Of Goldfinger
(ECM)
Fujiwara, Tomas
Triple Double [VINYL 2 LPs]
(Firehouse 12 Records)
Gray, Devin / Ellery Eskelin / Michael Formanaek / Dave Ballou
Dirigo Rataplan II
(Rataplan Records)
Rainey, Tom Trio (w/ Laubrock / Halvorson)
Combobulated
(Intakt)
Laubrock, Ingrid (w/ Halvorson / Davis / Wooley)
Contemporary Chaos Practices - Two Works For Orchestra With Soloists
(Intakt)
Halvorson, Mary / Joe Morris
Traversing Orbits
(RogueArt)
Sacks, Jacob
Fishes
(Clean Feed)
Halvorson, Mary / Bill Frisell
The Maid With The Flaxen Hair
(Tzadik)
Berne, Tim / Matt Mitchell Duo
Angel Dusk
(Screwgun)
Bynum, Taylor Ho
Enter the Plustet [CD]
(Firehouse 12 Records)
Bynum, Taylor Ho
Enter the Plustet [VINYL]
(Firehouse 12 Records)
Fujiwara, Tomas
Triple Double
(Firehouse 12 Records)
Laubrock Ingrid Anti-House (w/ Halvorson, Davis, Hebert, Rainey, Noriega)
Roulette of the Cradle
(Intakt)
Sanchez, Angelica Trio (w/ Michael Formanek / Tyshawn Sorey)
Float the Edge
(Clean Feed)
Courvoisier, Sylvie / Mary Halvorson
Crop Circles
(Relative Pitch)
Braxton, Anthony
3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011 [3 CDs]
(Braxton House/Firehouse 12 Records)
Fujiwara, Tomas / Ben Goldberg / Mary Halvorson
The Out Louds
(Relative Pitch)
Alcorn, Susan
Soledad
(Relative Pitch)
Halvorson, Mary
Reverse Blue
(Relative Pitch)
Ducret, Marc
Tower-Bridge [2 CDs]
(Ayler)
Bynum, Taylor Ho
Navigation (Possibility Abstracts X & XI) [VINYL 2 LPs]
(Firehouse 12 Records)
Bynum, Taylor Ho
Navigation (Possibility Abstracts XII & XIII) [2 CDs]
(Firehouse 12 Records)
Cady, Jason
Happiness Is The Problem
(Lock Step Records)
Halvorson, Mary Septet
Illusionary Sea
(Firehouse 12 Records)
Braxton, Anthony Steptet (with Ho Bynum / Halvorson / Pavone / Rozen / Siegel / Testa)
Echo Echo Mirror House
(Les Disques Victo)
Halvorson, Mary / Kirk Knuffke / Matt Wilson
Sifter
(Relative Pitch)
Smith, Ches and These Arches (Smith / Berne / Malaby / Halvorson / Parkins)
Hammered
(Clean Feed)
9Volt
Open Circuit
(OutNow Recordings)
Morris, Joe
Perpetual Frontier The Properties of Free Music [BOOK]
(Riti Publishing)
Pavone, Jessica
Hope Dawson Is Missing
(Tzadik)
AYCH (Jim Hobbs, Mary Halvorson, Taylor Ho Bynum)
As The Crow Flies
(Relative Pitch)
Bynum Sextet, Taylor Ho
Apparent Distance
(Firehouse 12 Records)
Ducret, Marc
Tower, vol. 2
(Ayler)
SFE - Simon Fell Ensemble
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(Clean Feed)
Chevillon, Bruno / Berne, Tim
Old and Unwise
(Clean Feed)
Arguelles, Julian Trio
Ground Rush
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MAP (Halvorson / Nakatani / Radding)
Fever Dream [VINYL]
(TAIGA)
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Bynum, Taylor Ho Sextet
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Braxton, Anthony
12+1tet (Victoriaville) 2007
(Les Disques Victo)
Robertson, Herb NY Downtown Allstars
Real Aberration
(Clean Feed)
Braxton, Anthony
Trio (Victoriaville) 2007
(Les Disques Victo)
Berne, Tim
Science Friction 3CD
(Screwgun)
Robertson, Herb - NY Downtown Allstars
Elaboration
(Clean Feed)
Recommended & Related Releases:
Illegal Crowns (Halvorson / Fujiwara / Delbecq / Ho Bynum)
The No-Nosed Puppet [VINYL]
(RogueArt)
Nabatov, Simon Quintet (w/ Malaby / Seabrook / Formanek / Cleaver)
Last Minute Theory
(Clean Feed)
Douglas, Dave
Showing Up / The Power of the Vote [7" VINYL]
(Greenleaf Music)
Torn, David / Tim Berne / Ches Smith
Sun Of Goldfinger
(ECM)
Fujiwara, Tomas
Triple Double [VINYL 2 LPs]
(Firehouse 12 Records)
Bynum, Taylor Ho
Enter the Plustet [CD]
(Firehouse 12 Records)
Bynum, Taylor Ho
Enter the Plustet [VINYL]
(Firehouse 12 Records)
Courvoisier, Sylvie / Mary Halvorson
Crop Circles
(Relative Pitch)
Braxton, Anthony
3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011 [3 CDs]
(Braxton House/Firehouse 12 Records)
Fujiwara, Tomas / Ben Goldberg / Mary Halvorson
The Out Louds
(Relative Pitch)
Alcorn, Susan
Soledad
(Relative Pitch)
Ducret, Marc
Tower-Bridge [2 CDs]
(Ayler)
Bynum, Taylor Ho
Navigation (Possibility Abstracts X & XI) [VINYL 2 LPs]
(Firehouse 12 Records)
Bynum, Taylor Ho
Navigation (Possibility Abstracts XII & XIII) [2 CDs]
(Firehouse 12 Records)
Cady, Jason
Happiness Is The Problem
(Lock Step Records)
Halvorson, Mary Septet
Illusionary Sea
(Firehouse 12 Records)
Braxton, Anthony Steptet (with Ho Bynum / Halvorson / Pavone / Rozen / Siegel / Testa)
Echo Echo Mirror House
(Les Disques Victo)
Halvorson, Mary / Kirk Knuffke / Matt Wilson
Sifter
(Relative Pitch)
Smith, Ches and These Arches (Smith / Berne / Malaby / Halvorson / Parkins)
Hammered
(Clean Feed)
9Volt
Open Circuit
(OutNow Recordings)
Morris, Joe
Perpetual Frontier The Properties of Free Music [BOOK]
(Riti Publishing)
Pavone, Jessica
Hope Dawson Is Missing
(Tzadik)
AYCH (Jim Hobbs, Mary Halvorson, Taylor Ho Bynum)
As The Crow Flies
(Relative Pitch)
Bynum Sextet, Taylor Ho
Apparent Distance
(Firehouse 12 Records)
Ducret, Marc
Tower, vol. 2
(Ayler)
SFE - Simon Fell Ensemble
Positions and Descriptions
(Clean Feed)

Search for other titles on the Intakt label.