Something new

Jazz composer, basist Michael Formanek will perform Friday

BRATTLEBORO — Michael Formanek, a multidisciplinary contemporary jazz musician, will stop for a concert in Brattleboro with his quartet as part of a release tour celebrating his new CD, Small Places.

“Mike has always been a special musician,” says James MacDonald, the director of the Open Music Collective who studied under Formanek, a double bassist and composer who has played with a formidable list of musicians.

Over the past 30 years, Formanek, who heads the jazz department in the conservatory at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, has played 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, and Joe Lovano.

MacDonald describes Formanek's style as “21st-century music”: not fusion, but a style that naturally draws from the influence of any number of different types of music, from classical to Motown.

Formanek will perform with Tim Berne (alto saxophone), Craig Taborn (piano), and Gerald Cleaver (drums).

“One of the coolest things about this music is that the parts that you think are composed are improvised, and the parts that you think are improvised are composed,” MacDonald says.

“As much as I love bebop, bebop is bebop,” he says. “It's so important to understand that this is new music happening. These guys are more about a whole different thing.”

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