Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bruce Forman: The Book of Forman

B4Man Music
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: The Book of Forman

You may not be familiar with Forman’s skill as a guitarist, but chances are you’ve heard him. That’s particularly true for Clint Eastwood fans; Forman was featured on the soundtracks of Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers and Hereafter.  

Oh, yes: and on 18 other albums prior to this one.

Essentially self-taught, Forman started to play professionally after graduating from high school. His early years were spent in San Francisco and New York, and he began working with name musicians in the late 1970s. He served as a sideman in numerous groups, and played with Richie Cole from 1978 through ’82. Forman didn’t release albums under his own name until 1980; during the subsequent decade, he averaged about one a year. 

He’s currently an educator as well as a performer, teaching master classes and serving as an adjunct assistant professor at USC’s Thornton School of Music.

Although primarily identified as a bebop guitarist, Forman formed a western jazz group known as the Cow Bop Band in the early 2000s, and played swinging versions of songs by Patsy Cline and other country stars. For this new release, though, he has returned to his bop/straight-ahead roots.

Forman composed the majority of the 11 tunes on this album, which also includes three titles from the Great American Songbook: “On the Street Where You Live” (Lerner and Lowe), “The Song Is You” (Kern and Hammerstein) and “You Go To My Head” (Gillespie and Coots). 

Forman and his trio swing wonderfully. He’s supported by young bassist Alex Frank, and Marvin “Smitty” Smith on drums; the latter has been around for years, and has worked with many name bands.

Considering how grooved this trio is, it’s also one of the most relaxed and tasteful groups working these days. Whether at a club, or from your sound machine, you’ll enjoy this stuff immensely.

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