“The Distance” is an attractive opener, but it’s Formanek’s ambitious big-band Exoskeleton suite that dominates here, stuffing an introduction and eight "parts" into five tracks. In the prelude, Formanek’s bass is paired with wind-instrument harmony; intensity builds as piano, percussion, and guitar join. When the 18-piece group launches into “Part I - Impenetrable,” Formanek emerges as a gifted large-ensemble jazz composer, capable of orchestrating intensity and pensive cool. His band is formidable, featuring solos from players like guitarist Mary Halvorson (“Part V - Without Regrets”) and pianist Kris Davis (“Part VII - A Reptile Dysfunction”).
Exoskeleton, Pts. I-III (Impenetrable / Beneath the Shell / @Heart)
Exoskeleton, Pts. IV-V (Echoes / Without Regrets)
Exoskeleton, Pts. VI-VII (Shucking While Jiving / A Reptile Dysfunction)
Exoskeleton, Pt. VIII (Metamorphic)
6 Songs, 1 Hour, 11 Minutes
February 12, 2016
℗ 2016 ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin