If anything, Small Places is a step beyond this quartet's first release, with the compositions and improvisation blending so seamlessly that a listener is scarcely able to tell where one leaves off and the other begins. Earthy yet atmospheric, this is very 21st-century American jazz, the music brimming with piquant riffs and muscular ostinatos, rich in melodic possibility and the sound of surprise.
Unlike The Rub and Spare Change, which was recorded after only a few initial live performances by Formanek and company, the new album represents a group honed by touring both Europe and the U.S. together. Moreover, the quartet performed the full repertoire of Small Places in a New York club just before heading into Avatar Studios in autumn 2011 with producer Manfred Eicher. Small Places is the sound of a working band in peak form, challenged by the material and challenging each other in its expression.
Formanek's 2010 The Rub and Spare Change garnered a rare five-star review in DownBeat magazine, while The New York Times described the disc as being "graceful in its subversions, often even sumptuous". The review in Progression perhaps puts it best: "This type of listening experience, dense yet luminiferous, treads the tightrope between cerebral and streetwise in a damn cool way."
Personnel: Tim Berne (alto saxophone), Craig Taborn (piano), Michael Formanek (double-bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums, shruti box)
- Small Places
- Parting Ways
- Rising Tensions And Awesome Light
- Slightly Off Axis
- Seeds And Birdman
- Wobble And Spill
- Soft Reality
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