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Tim Berne and Michael Formanek: Ornery People

Here’s an excellent duo containing Berne on alto and baritone sax (mostly alto) and Formanek, a skillful arco and pizzicato player, on bass. They play five tunes, two by Formanek, three by Berne, and clearly Berne is the lead voice here. But that’s OK, because this is such a good album. Berne established himself as a laudable free improviser in the early 1980s, and I think he’s taken for granted to a degree today. He’s a fine composer, as is Formanek, and a top-notch improviser. Structurally his work deserves close attention. He has a great ability to vary and build on motives. His melodic inventiveness also deserves praise. Formanek performs with taste and discretion; everything he plays seems appropriate.

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