Bassist Michael Formanek’s new Intakt CD “Even Better” raises the bar on the bassist’s already strong catalog on the Swiss label intakt. Filling out the trio on the disc are guitarist Mary Halvorson and alto saxophonist Tim Berne. Be prepared for a sonically extravagant trio that stands alone on the current jazz scene. Berne’s sax and Halvorson’s guitar often play in tight harmony or unison over Formanek’s lyric and propulsive bass themes. On the opening “Suckerpunch” guitar and bass start with a funky theme with sax on top, increasingly discordant, random and compelling before returning to the groove in the last minute. And the music just gets better and more interesting
The familiar line up of a guitar/piano/drum trio becomes increasingly upturned song by song on the disc. Mary Halvorson, recent recipient of a MacArthur genius grant, reaffirms her standing as one of the most creative and interesting musicians on the scene with her skill at extracting extraordinary, mind-and-note bending sounds whilst jousting with the bassist and saxophonist. There is simply no guitarist as interesting on the scene today as her... and few CDs as compelling and creative as this one…it’s Even Better than one could have expected.