Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Bruce Forman Trio: Formanism

BFM Music
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Formanism

One of the great things about jazz is that periodically I discover a “new” artist, despite having spent most of my life deeply involved in the art. I sometimes become convinced that I’ve heard all of the ones who count ... and, gratefully, that’s never the case. To paraphrase a popular line: So much great jazz, so little time.

Guitarist Bruce Forman is one such example. I’ve heard him many times, but without knowing who I was listening to. Most Clint Eastwood fans know that he’s a true jazz nut; just listen to the soundtracks in many of his movies, and you’ll know what I mean. So, who played the guitar on the soundtrack for Million Dollar Baby, and several others Eastwood films? That would be Bruce Forman.

He has been part of the jazz scene for more than two decades, both as a sideman and leader, and has recorded with luminaries such as Ray Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Barney Kessel and Kenny Burell. Forman also has taught since his teens, conducted workshops internationally, and published written and video teaching guides.

One of the most interesting aspects of Forman’s musical career is his interest — and fluency — in all music genres. This new disc features him in a traditional/bop-tinged style, but he also has released albums that demonstrate his skills as a Country/Western artist; Swingin’ Out West and Route 66, featuring a group named Cow Bop, are examples.

Trio formats come in many, many flavors. Forman’s guitar-led group is a welcome variation, and this release blends standards (“I’ve Told Every Little Star,” “Flamingo,” “Happens to You”) with original compositions. The operative description? Everything swings brightly.

You’ll immediately notice the immaculate interplay among these three artists. When Forman plays a complex melodic line, bassist Gabe Noel doesn’t merely keep the beat; he echoes the same line, or a similar chord progression, which results in a delightful mix. In a similar manner, drummer Jake Reed further augments the beat, without ever interfering. 

This is an extremely tasteful group: so good that you won’t feel like any conversational background. You’ll just want to listen.

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