About the album
Small Places is double bassist/composer Michael Formanek’s follow-up to “The Rub and Spare Change”, his widely lauded ECM debut as a leader. That 2010 release garnered a rare five-star review in DownBeat magazine, while The New York Times described the disc as being “graceful in its subversions, often even sumptuous.” The review in Progression perhaps puts it best: “This type of listening experience, dense yet luminiferous, treads the tightrope between cerebral and streetwise in a damn cool way.” The new album features the same powerhouse band of long-time confreres, with Formanek in telepathic league with saxophonist Tim Berne, pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver. If anything, Small Places is a step beyond this quartet’s first release, with the compositions and improvisation blending so seamlessly that a listener is scarcely able to tell where one leaves off and the other begins. Earthy yet atmospheric, this is very 21st-century American jazz, the music brimming with piquant riffs and muscular ostinatos, rich in melodic possibility and the sound of surprise.