(Be sure and check Forman's web site below for additional info!)
So what in the world is a "Formanism?"
Perhaps the best example if not fitting review comes straight from the liner notes.
Formanism? "It means it's not just another blowing session", Bruce says. "There's more to life than just a lot of notes. Notes don't give a shit whether they sound good or bad. They're just notes, it's up to us. When we played these live sessions, we were concerned with the vibe. The mood and the groove."
While the latter part of this "Formanism" sound suspiciously like something heard from a smooth jazz player the bottom line is similar to this "Formanism" and it is indeed this grip it and rip it mentality or perhaps a return to the trio format for the first time in a dozen years that has Forman releasing a trio record as exciting, expansive and energetic as anything that came from the classic Blue Note days of the mid 1960's.
The trio format was specifically chosen for these compositions to add to the flavor and for an intimate yet expansive presentation and freedom that only a small ensemble can bring to the mix. Music like the plethora of piano trios heard today there are those that simply play the standards, collect their check and are off to the next gig as memorable as chewing gum is once you are finished with it. Formanism goes in the memorable pile as a stellar guitar trio release that lingers long after the last note is played.
The bopish "Formanism" opens this gem with an innovative swing and lyrical sense of purpose while Forman walks a harmonic tightrope and the trio shifts dynamics on the fly. What comes to the front all most immediately is the natural ease and flow, no self indulgent six string pyrotechnics here. "Blue Jake" is an infectious slightly blues infused vamp that highlights the clean and crisp sound of Forman's classic jazz guitar. Gabe Noel and Jake Reed are treasures on this gem with a deceptively subtle swing that is hard to ignore. A groove you use. A beat you hear with your feet. An absolute winner. "Obstacle Course" is a smokin' nasty with Forman and the trio seemingly engaged in a private musical conversation we are simply blessed to overhear. Bruce Forman has never sounded better and with the addition of Noel on bass and Reed on drums there is an absolute musical cohesion that is unmistakable.
The great aspect or perhaps most daunting task when it comes to playing in a trio is there is no place to run and hide. Forman and his trio need no such hiding place. An absolutely exquisite recording from beginning to end. Perhaps it would be best to close with the last portion of the liner notes from Brick Wahl (really):
"Sometimes notes really do give a shit about sounding good."
Tracks: Formanism; Sea Sweet; Blue Jake; Bruzette; Gone For Good; Flamingo; Underdog; I've Told Every Little Star; Obstacle Course; Bruzette; Tassajara.
Personnel: Bruce Forman: guitar; Gabe Noel: bass; Jake Reed: drums.