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Michael Formanek's Ensemble Kolossus: The Distance

Michael Fomanek has taken on quite an undertaking with his latest release The Distance. The New York bassist has gathered some of the best jazz musicians New York has to offer and has created a big band he calls Ensemble Kolossus. There are no fewer than eighteen musicians lending their talents, making for quite a different beast than his last two quartet recordings Small Places (2012) and The Rub and Spare Change (2010).

This is a fairly dissonant recording blurring the lines between free form and compositional modern jazz. The title track begins the album with a brooding atmosphere, stark piano and droning sounds. The tenor sax solo is quite lovely adding a sultry tone to the moodier surroundings. "Exoskeleton Prelude" opens with an outstanding double bass solo from Formanek which he continues throughout the piece. Again, the atmosphere is thick with a subtle yet brooding intensity.

The core of the album is built upon the nine part "Exoskeleton", over an hour in length and featuring everything from moody dissonance to more upbeat brass infused modern jazz with some great solos along the way. The ensemble's chaotic nature is very much in evidence here including some wild brass solos. Inventive, colourful, vibrant and highly imaginative are just a few words that come to mind when listening to this epic.

The musicianship is stellar throughout, making The Distance a challenging yet ultimately satisfying listen. Another winner from ECM Records and an album I highly recommend.

Track Listing:
1. The Distance
2. Exoskeleton Prelude
3. Exoskeleton Parts I-III
4. Exoskeleton Parts IV-V
5. Exoskeleton Parts VI-VII
6. Exoskeleton Part VIII

Added: June 5th 2016
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Label's Official Site
Hits: 1380
Language: english

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