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The Rub and Spare Change

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The Rub and Spare Change
The Rub and Spare Change


An outstanding ECM debut for US bassist/composer Michael Formanek, 'The Rub and Spare Change' finds him leading a new, dynamic quartet, drawing on much shared musical experience. Each member of the group - the others are saxophonist Tim Berne, pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver - is a high profile player with a staunch following amongst progressive jazz enthusiasts.

Although Formanek (born 1958 in San Francisco) has played often with altoist Tim Berne over the last two decades, and both have frequently played with Taborn and Cleaver, the quartet in this form is a new combination. Formanek called it into being for a gig at New York's Stone Club in 2008. All the pieces are written by Formanek. His compositional sensibilities are focused on some very mobile group music. The material is constantly changing, with an almost kaleidoscopic range of colours and shapes. A lot of energy here, too - powerful grooves and driving rhythms. The centrepiece is the 17-minute "Tonal Suite" which roves through a broad range of moods.

The album is also a strong showcase for Tim Berne as sax soloist. Formanek's writing creates contexts in which Berne can soar - he is often the lead voice. The scope of Craig Taborn's playing is rigorously explored - neo-minimalist ballad feeling on the opening "Twenty Three Neo", for instance, fiercely percussive playing on the closing "Too Big To Fall" where the Berne/Taborn exchanges recall the spirit of Jimmy Lyons/Cecil Taylor.

An enormously experienced artist, Michel Formanek has collaborated with Tony Williams, Freddie Hubbard, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Dave Liebman, Joe Henderson, Mark Isham, Cedar Walton, Jane Ira Bloom, Bob Moses, Peter Erskine, Harold Danko, Evan Parker, Elvis Costello, and many others. He combines highly adventurous playing with the traditional jazz functions of rhythmic and harmonic did the late, great Charles Mingus. (And indeed, Formanek has also played bass with the Mingus Big Band.)

Personnel: Michael Formanek (double-bass), Tim Berne (alto saxophone), Craig Taborn (piano), Gerald Cleaver (drums)


  1. Name
  2. Twenty Three Neo
  3. The Rub And Spare Change
  4. Inside The Box
  5. Jack's Last Call
  6. Tonal Suite
  7. Too Big To Fail
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