The Distance Michael Formanek & Ensemble Kolossus
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- 1The Distance05:59
- 2Exoskeleton: Prelude09:04
- 3Exoskeleton, Pt. I-III: Impenetrable / Beneath the Shell / @Heart21:34
- 4Exoskeleton, Pt. IV-V: Echoes / Without Regrets15:42
- 5Exoskeleton, Pt. Vi-VII: Shucking While Jiving / A Reptile Dysfunction11:29
- 6Exoskeleton, Pt. VIII: Metamorphic07:27
Info for The Distance
„The Distance“ represents a grand creative leap for bassist-composer Michael Formanek, following two widely lauded ECM releases featuring his quartet with Tim Berne, Craig Taborn and Gerald Cleaver.
The new album showcases his texturally rich compositions for the dynamic 18-piece big band he has playfully dubbed Ensemble Kolossus. The project saw some of the most distinctive musicians on the New York scene - including Ralph Alessi, Oscar Noriega, Tim Berne, and Mary Halvorsen - bonding to realize Formanek's epic design, as he re-imagined what a big-band can be.
Channelling sounds from the classic to the modern, he also composed for individual soloists in the Ellingtonian tradition. Along with the romanticism of the title track, 'The Distance' features the 'Exoskeleton' suite - a kaleidoscopic musical experience in which Formanek's bold, beautiful vision for 21st-century large-ensemble jazz comes vibrantly to life.
Both 'The Rub and Spare Change' (2010) and 'Small Places' (2012), Formanek's two previous ECM albums, received rare five-star reviews in DownBeat magazine. In conceiving 'The Distance', Formanek was inspired sonically by such far-flung sources as the massively resonant chords in Messiaen's organ works and the expansive jazz orchestrations of Charles Mingus, Sun Ra, Anthony Braxton and Henry Threadgill. As the New York Times described it, Formanek's music is 'graceful in its subversions, even sumptuous.'
Loren Stillman, alto saxophone
Oscar Noriega, alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
Chris Speed, tenor saxophone, clarinet
Brian Settles, tenor saxophone, flute
Tim Berne, baritone saxophone
Dave Ballou, trumpet
Ralph Alessi, trumpet
Shane Endsley, trumpet
Kirk Knuffke, cornet
Alan Ferber, trombone
Jacob Garchik, trombone
Ben Gerstein, trombone
Jeff Nelson, bass trombone, contrabass trombone
Patricia Brennan, marimba
Mary Halvorson, guitar
Kris Davis, piano
Michael Formanek, double-bass
Tomas Fujiwara, drums
Mark Helias, conductor
Born in San Francisco, California, in 1958, Michael Formanek has performed in myriad contexts since he played a precocious gig with Tony Williams Lifetime when only 18. The bassist has worked with old masters from Lee Konitz to Joe Maneri via Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard and Stan Getz, as well as with a who’s who of contemporary New York progressive players (including as a member of Tim Berne’s longstanding Bloodcount band). As a leader, Formanek released a string of albums on the Enja label in the 1990s, as well as a solo bass disc for Berne’s Screwgun label. Formanek teaches jazz bass at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, where he also directs the Peabody Jazz Orchestra. In 2007, the orchestra premiered his composition The Open Book.