Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra: making great music personal

Michael Formanek

Michael Formanek may have one of the most diverse biographies in contemporary improvised music. At first glance his list of musical affiliations is both intriguing and confusing. Spanning nearly twenty three years he has played and/or recorded with Tim Berne, Freddie Hubbard, Stan Getz, Marty Ehrlich, Chet Baker, Tony Williams, Gerry Mulligan, Kevin Mahogany, Fred Hersch, Marimolin, Dave Liebman, Uri Caine, Joe Henderson, Mark Isham, James Emery, Bob Mintzer, Mingus Dynasty, Mingus Big Band, Terumasa Hino, Cedar Walton, Attila Zoller, Eddie Daniels, George Coleman, Franco Ambrosetti, Jane Ira Bloom, Ted Rosenthal, Bob Moses, Daniel Schnyder, and Gunther Schuller.

In addition to playing the acoustic bass, composition plays a very large part in Formanek’s total musical picture. His first three recordings for the Enja label, Wide Open Spaces, Extended Animation , and Low Profile , and Nature of the Beast were received with wide critical approval. All of these recordings feature his compositions exclusively, performed by musicians such as Greg Osby, Tim Berne, Mark Feldman, Dave Douglas, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Ku-umba Frank Lacy, Marty Ehrlich, Wayne Krantz, and Jim Black. In addition, Formanek’s 1992 collaboration with Tim Berne and Jeff Hirshfield, Loose Cannon (Soul Note) , continues to show up in many a serious collectors’ archives.

In the past ten years Formanek has performed his music many times with a wide range of ensembles. His band, Wide Open Spaces, played at the Leverkusener Jazztage, in Leverkusen, Germany. The Espoo Festival in Finland. Lincoln Center Out-Of-Doors, in New York City, as well as many clubs and concert halls in the United States and Europe. Ongoing projects include Tim Berne’s bloodcount, “Relativity”, a new cooperative trio with Peter Erskine and Marty Ehrlich, and the Tim Berne/Michael Formanek duo. Upcoming projects of special interest include a solo bass recording for Berne’s label, Screwgun.

Michael Formanek

Photo: LACO Archive

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