dinsdag 5 oktober 2010

Michael Formanek The Rub and Spare Change

Most of the recent ECM releases can hardly be labeled jazz, but this one surely can. And it's a very impressive kind of jazz, I must say, by a group of four fantastic musicians, all of them leaders in their own right.
Though this really is Michael Formanek's date: he wrote all the tunes and surely organised the event. Formanek came to prominence in the nineties with some great stuff on Enja, but then stayed below radar for ten years or so. If Dr. Wiki tells the truth, then he must have devoted his time primarily to teaching at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. His sound on bass is as strong as ever. He is a perfect match for drummer Gerald Cleaver.
But it's the soloing of alto saxophonist Tim Berne and - especially - pianist Craig Taborn that gives this cd its unique flavour. Berne has never been recorded better, and I prefer these tunes of approximately 8 minutes to the lengthy, often fatigueing pieces he records under his own name.  Although there is one very long piece here also, Tonal Suite, which stands the test beyond doubt.
I don't know much of the work of Craig Taborn, though I was very fond of Junk Magic, mainly an electric affair. Taborn here only plays acoustic piano and he really sounds terrific. And very modern. And virtuosic. Listen to his solo on Inside the Box, one of the highlights of this cd.
The music could be described as - hmmm, let's say - very complex freebop with an avantgarde edge. Though it never gets too complicated, don't be afraid. To me this cd means a relief that ECM still produces great new jazz, apart from the inevitable Keith Jarrett. I admit I wasn't sure of that anymore, Manfred!