Michael Formanek - The Rub And Spare Change (3 stars)

Michael Formanek - The Rub And Spare Change

(ECM Records)

Bass player Michael Formanek will be familiar to anyone who has followed the New York downtown scene, and his wide-ranging CV goes all the way back to his time in jazz-rock fusion group, Tony Williams’s Lifetime as an 18-year-old. Albums under his leadership have been rare of late (this is the first in over a decade), and for his ECM debut he has surrounded himself with musicians he knows very well – saxophonist Tim Berne, pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver.

The musicians are all heavy hitters amongst the progressive music community on New York, and Formanek’s rhythmically complex compositions offer them ample scope to explore a rich tapestry of ideas and responses. The music oscillates between structured and free, while three of the six tunes are actually multi-part compositions, including the title track itself and the extended ‘Tonal Suite’, which has three parts.

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