Michael Formanek Ensemble Kolossus - The Distance review: will prove timeless

The Distance
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Artist: Michael Formanek Ensemble Kolossus
Genre: Jazz
Label: ECM

Michael Formanek’s Ensemble Kolossus is a big band, but not a Big Band.

The Baltimore bassist’s vision is certainly grand – 19 of New York’s finest, marshalled by an expansive, multi-part score – but the writing allows the individuality of each musician to poke through the surface, giving this towering record the energy and intimacy of a small group session.

And since the line-up includes saxophonists Chris Speed, Loren Stillman and Tim Berne, trumpeter Ralph Alessi and guitarist Mary Halvorson, what emerges is something truly unique and spontaneous.

Formanek has created a work of arresting originality, connecting the ambiguous harmonies of Oliver Messiaen to the freedom of Charles Mingus, one that captures a moment in music, but one that will surely, with time, prove timeless.