Tim Berne & Michael Formanek
Saturday, April 12, 8:00 p.m. – Rare duo show!
“Few musicians working in or around jazz over the past 30 years have developed an idiomatic signature more distinctive than Tim Berne.”
— The New York Times
“Michael Formanek… vibrant and distinctive, performing music that combines rigor and reckless abandon.”
Sound It Out presents the return of saxophonist Tim Berne & bassist Michael Formanek to the series to perform a rare duo concert at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at the Greenwich House Music School in New York City’s West Village. In the past few years, both Berne and Formanek have made albums for the august ECM label that have garnered them the widest media acclaim and biggest audiences of their long, already-distinguished careers. The New Yorker has declared Formanek “a bold and unclassifiable bassist and composer,” while the BBC gave Berne high praise by saying of his enduring artistry: “The longer he plays, the better he sounds.” While Berne and Formanek often play together in various bands, this Sound It Out concert renews a long dormant duo partnership, one documented on the excellent – and now very rare – 1998 album Ornery People, which included such highlights as the long, bluesy “Jiggle the Handle.” (Maybe if we ask nice, they’ll play it.)
Tickets: $20 ($15 for students and seniors), available at the door
Berne was recently named No. 7 of New York City’s top 25 essential jazz icons by Time Out New York, and he was called “a saxophonist and composer of granite conviction” by The New York Times. Since learning at the elbow of St. Louis master Julius Hemphill in the ’70s, Berne has built an expansive discography as a leader that includes dozens of albums on the Columbia, JMT, Winter & Winter, Thirsty Ear and ECM labels, as well as a constellation of recordings on his own Screwgun imprint. His 2012 Snakeoil album on ECM made the DownBeat critic’s poll of the top 10 best releases of 2012, while New York Times critic Nate Chinen listed it as his No. 1 release of the year. Jazzwise underscored the stature of Snakeoil by declaring it to be “suffused with genuine humanity and more than a little wisdom.” Berne’s 2013 ECM follow-up, Shadow Man, has also been acclaimed far and wide for its mix of bruising dynamism and lucid poetry, with the U.K’s Guardian saying that the album features “spellbinding examples of Berne's composing ingenuity.” Berne’s pace-setting ensembles over the past few decades have fomented a who’s who of top improvisers, and he has recently toured hard not only with his own bands but also with the collective BB&C, an improv trio with Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and New York drum stalwart Jim Black.
Michael Formanek has performed in myriad contexts since he played a precocious gig with the Tony Williams Lifetime when only 18. The bassist has worked with old masters from Lee Konitz to Joe Maneri via Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard and Stan Getz, as well as with the cream of contemporary New York progressive players. Following a long string of albums on the Enja label (as well as a solo bass disc for Berne’s Screwgun label), Formanek has recently released two peak-level albums on ECM. These discs – Small Places (2012) and The Rub and Spare Change (2010), featuring his all-star quartet with Berne, pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver – have earned glowing reviews, including consecutive five-star treatments in DownBeat magazine. The New York Times described the music of this band as being “graceful in its subversions, often even sumptuous.” A busy collaborator on the New York scene, Formanek has recently toured and recorded with Thumbscrew, a collective trio with guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Tomas Fujiwara. Formanek also teaches jazz bass at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore.