6.1.11 Michael Formanek Quartet » Michael Formanek + Craig Taborn + Tim Berne + Gerald Cleaver @ BlueWhale

Angel City Arts presents
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St. Suite 301, Los Angeles, CA 90012  |  213.620.0908

Michael Formanek’s singular approach to the acoustic bass has led to an impressive range of musical associations. During his thirty-plus year career, he has played and/or recorded with Elvis Costello, Tim Berne, Uri Caine, Freddie Hubbard, Stan Getz, Marty Ehrlich, Chet Baker, Tony Williams, Gerry Mulligan, Bob Mintzer, Fred Hersch, Dave Liebman, Joe Henderson, Mark Isham, Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Big Band, Mingus Big Band, Terumasa Hino, Cedar Walton, Attila Zoller, George Coleman, Jane Ira Bloom, Bob Moses, Gunther Schuller, Peter Erskine, Joe and Matt Maneri, Gary Thomas, Harold Danko, Dave Burrell, Joe Lovano,  and many others.

Composition also plays a significant role in Formanek’s overall musical profile, and four albums of his original music, Wide Open Spaces, Extended Animation, Low Profile and Nature Of The Beast have been released to critical acclaim on the Enja label. Am I Bothering You, a recording of solo bass performances made for Tim Berne’s Screwgun label, has firmly established itself as an important contribution to that genre. Formanek produced or co-produced all of these recordings and among the featured musicians are Greg Osby, Tim Berne, Mark Feldman, Dave Douglas, Marvin ‘Smitty’ Smith, Ku-umba Frank Lacy, Marty Ehrlich, Wayne Krantz, and Jim Black. Formanek received Chamber Music America’s New Works: Creation and Presentation Grant for 2000-2001 to compose a new piece for the Tim Berne/Michael Formanek Duo, which was recently performed in Philadelphia as part of the Chamber Music America Encore program for 2007. Formanek was commissioned to compose an original piece for the 150th anniversary of the Peabody Conservatory. The piece, The Open Book for jazz soloists with orchestra, was premiered at Peabody in February of 2007, and featured members of the Peabody Jazz Orchestra and the full Peabody Concert Orchestra under the direction of Hajime Teri Murai.

In 2010 Michael Formanek’s first CD as a leader and composer in more than a decade was released on the ECM label. The Rub and Spare Change features the amazing group of Tim Berne on saxophone, Craig Taborn on piano, and Gerald Cleaver on drums, and Formanek on bass, and has received numerous accolades including Five Stars in Down Beat Magazine, and a place on many best CD’s of 2010 lists.  As a result the Michael Formanek Quartet toured Europe in April of 2011, and continues to perform whenever possible in the US and elsewhere.

Michael Formanek website

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Craig Taborn is an American keyboardist and composer. Playing piano, organ, and Moog synthesizer, Taborn has worked mostly in jazz, although he also does dark ambient andtechno music.

Taborn became known for his membership in saxophonist James Carter’s band,[1] where he contributed to The Real Quietstorm (1994) and Conversation with the Elders (1996). In 1995, he graduated from the University of Michigan with a liberal arts degree.[1] During the 1990s he also worked with Mat Maneri[2] (Blue Deco, 2000), Roscoe Mitchell, Nate Smith, Gerald Cleaver, Lotte Anker, Dave Binney, Wayne Krantz, Adam Rogers and others. During the 1990s he also led his own trio.

In the 2000s he played in the US with Tim Berne (The Shell Game, 2001), in a trio with Susie Ibarra (Songbird Suite, in 2001 and Folkloriko in 2004). In 2002 he worked with Dave Douglas(Freak in), Hugh Ragin[1] and the Norwegian bassist Eivind Opsvik, with Marty Ehrlich in 2003, Drew Gress in 2004, and Chris Potter (Underground, 2005).

He has worked with many musicians including Chris Potter,[3] Nate Smith, Gerald Cleaver,Lotte Anker, Drew Gress, James Carter, David Binney, Wayne Krantz, Adam Rogers, David Torn, Tim Berne, members of The Bad Plus, and was a member of the Susie Ibarra Trio.

Craig Taborn website

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Tim Berne was born in Syracuse, New York in 1954, and was subjected to a perfectly normal childhood.  But he didn’t decide to take up music until nearly twenty years later when he was attending Lewis and Clark College in Oregon, putting most of his energy into intramural basketball.  At this point, while resting a sore ankle in his dormitory, Berne encountered a saxophonist who was selling his alto, and bought it on impulse.  “There was just something about the sound of the saxophone that got to me,” he says.

Musically, up to that point, Berne had always been motivated by all types of music, but especially by the great Stax artists like Sam and Dave and Johnnie Taylor, as well as Motown artists like Martha and the Vandellas and Gladys Knight.  This passion for the soulful quality in music would follow him for the rest of his career, a career that he could not possibly foreseen at the time.  “I hadn’t listened to much jazz, but then I heard Julius Hemphill’s album Dogon A.D., and that completely turned me around.  It captured everything I liked in music.  It had this Stax/R&B sensibility and it had this other wildness.  It was incredible.  That’s when I started playing.”

Berne moved to New York in 1974, sought Hemphill out, and entered into a sort-of apprenticeship with the elder musician.  The “lessons” they had together lasted for hours and covered everything from composition to record promotion to recording to pasting up handbills to aspects of magic and spirituality and, sometimes, even playing the saxophone.  “From the beginning,” Berne says, “even while I was still learning to play the saxophone, Julius always encouraged me to write my own music as well.  So it never occurred to me that most people don’t play their own music or aren’t bandleaders.  I thought that was just part of it.  You learn how to play music, you start a band, and that’s it.  Julius didn’t offer me one system, but a lot of possibilities, with the emphasis always on ideas and sound.”

Berne began issuing his own albums on his own Empire label in 1979.  Over the next five years he would record and distribute five albums under his own name which included such musicians as Ed Schuller, Olu Dara, Paul Motian, John Carter, Glenn Ferris and Bill Frisell.  Following two recordings for the Italian Soul Note label, Berne recorded Fulton Street Maul and Sanctified Dreams for Columbia Records.  These recordings coincided with an increasingly active worldwide touring schedule.

In 1988 Berne began a long relationship with the JMT label with the first of two recordings with the co-operative Miniature (with Joey Baron and Hank Roberts).  In 1989 Berne’s JMT release Fractured Fairy Tales was hailed as a masterpiece by the New York Times.  Berne’s JMT legacy climaxed with the historic Paris Concerts given by his quartet bloodcount, released in three volumes (Lowlife, Poisoned Minds and Memory Select).  These recordings have received unanimous praise.  Since 1994, bloodcount has performed over 250 concerts worldwide.

In 1996 Berne once again founded his own record label, Screwgun, and released a three CD set of live recordings by bloodcount, Unwound.  He also had a new string quartet, dry ink, silence, premiered by the Kronos Quartet at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  1997 has found Berne touring the U.S. and Europe with bloodcount, writing music for large ensemble on commission, and preparing the next three Screwgun releases by his bands bloodcount and Paraphrase.  In addition, a recording of The Visible Man, a piece commissioned in 1992 for the Rova Saxophone Quartet, has just been issued on a disc called The Works, Volume 2 on the Black Saint label.

Tim Berne website

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photo by Maarten Mooijman Utrecht

Born May 4, 1963 and raised in Detroit, Gerald is a product of the city’s rich music tradition. Inspired by his father, drummer John Cleaver, he began playing the drums at an early age. He also played violin in elementary school, and trumpet in junior high school and high school. As a teenager he gained invaluable experience playing with Detroit jazz masters Ali Muhammad Jackson, Lamont Hamilton, Earl Van Riper, and Pancho Hagood. While attending the University of Michigan as a music education major, he was awarded a Jazz Study Grant, from the National Endowment for the Arts, to study with drummer Victor Lewis. He graduated in 1992 and began teaching in Detroit where he worked with Rodney Whitaker, A. Spencer Barefield, Marcus Belgrave, Donald Walden, Wendell Harrison, and with visiting musicians Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, Kenny Burrell, Frank Foster, Cecil Bridgewater, Ray Bryant, Eddie Harris, Dennis Rowland, Howard Johnson, Diana Krall and Don Byron. In 1995 he accepted an appointment as assistant professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Michigan, and in 1998 also joined the jazz faculty at Michigan State University. He moved to New York in 2002. He has performed or recorded with Franck Amsallem, Tim Ries, Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell, Lotte Anker, Reggie Workman, Marilyn Crispell, Matt Shipp, William Parker, Craig Taborn, Kevin Mahogany, Charles Gayle, Mario Pavone, Ralph Alessi, Jacky Terrasson, Jimmy Scott, Muhal Richard Abrams, Dave Douglas, Tim Berne, Jeremy Pelt, Ellery Eskelin, David Torn and Miroslav Vitous, among others. His 2001 recording “Adjust” (Fresh Sound New Talent) was nominated in the Best Debut Recording category by the Jazz Journalists Association. “Gerald Cleaver’s Detroit” (FSNT), is an homage to his hometown and to the late, great Detroit drummers Roy Brooks, Lawrence Williams, George Goldsmith and Richard “Pistol” Allen. Cleaver leads the bands Violet Hour, NiMbNl, Uncle June and Farmers By Nature. ..

Gerald Cleaver website

BlueWhale website


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