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The Distance

Compact Disc (Audio)
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Jewel Case
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The Distance
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." Personnel: 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, Ralph Alessi, Shane Endsley (trumpets), Kirk Knuffke (cornet); Alan Ferber, Jacob Garchik, Ben Gerstein (trombones); 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)


  1. Name
  2. The Distance
  3. Exoskeleton - Prelude
  4. Exoskeleton Parts I-III - Impenetrable / Beneath the Shell / at heart
  5. Exoskeleton Parts IV-V - Echoes / Without Regrets
  6. Exoskeleton Parts VI-VII - Shucking While Jiving / A Reptile Dysfunction
  7. Exoskeleton Part VIII - Metamorphic
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