BRUCE FORMAN has been making positives waves
in jazz circles for over 30 years, and he continues to do so on
his wonderful new album Formanism (B4MAN-MUSIC
– 102). Forman is joined by Gabe Noel on bass and Jake Reed on
drums for an eleven-tune journey that sprinkles a few standards,
“Flamingo” and “I’ve Told Every Little Star,” among a collection
of original tunes. Forman is a bopper at heart, but he does not
hesitate to go in a variety of directions, even giving two distinct
readings of his “Bruzette.” Whether burning up the frets or gently
caressing the strings, Forman never loses your attention, and
when the album is finished, there is a strong temptation to hit
the “play” button again. I did so, and I imagine that you will
Review: Bruce Forman Trio - Formanism
very good reason USC hired Bruce Forman to fill the gigantic shoes
of Joe Diorio, namely the fact that he plays like a demon, and
from an old school mastery to boot. Ya might recall the FAME Cow
Bop review ( here ), in which Forman grabbed some Django chops
and swung like crazy along the mesquite skyline. In this one,
he trades up for a long session of technical mastery a la Joe
Pass, Jim Hall, Herb Ellis, even some Gabor Szabó ( Sea Sweet
), among others. Yep, this is pure trio heaven, emphasis on guitar
but with some great bass from Gabe Noel, who can dance the obtuse
periphery when he wants, and susurrant drumming from Jake Reed,
the ground floor upon which the two axehandlers tread their paces.
has provided music in three Clint Eastwood movies, appeared at
the Monterey Jazz Fest 20 times (!) and, well, I don't have enough
room to cite all his many honors and sit-ins, so suffice it to
say the guy knows what to do with that pick and those six strings…and
then some. Whether it's the slo-bop of Blue Jake or the bouncy
convolutions of Underdog , with it's Bewitched intro, or the angular
chords-n-runs trade-offs of Tassajara Turnaround , what you get
is straight-up honest no bullshit playing. The guy indulges only
a slightly amplified electric and nothing but pure unvarnished
skill in a format that's monumentally unforgiving of even the
slightest errors. None of that occurs here in the least.
you get the kind of workouts that inspire people to take up the
guitar in the hopes of just approximating this kind of polish
one day—either that or the sheer bravado daunts 'em that they'll
never be able to hold a candle to the picker's scary-good acumen
and thus content themselves to rapt listenership (count me among
the latter!). So, to those looking for the next Jimmy Page or
Curt Cobain, look elsewhere, but if you want to hear what kinda
musicians cats like Eddie van Halen listen to when no one's around,
this is the place. This style of music is ever rarer, but when
it's encountered, anyone with a true love of guitar sits down
entranced, drinking it in by the cup, the bottle, and the barrel.
review (from criticaljazz.com)
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
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):
notes really do give a shit about sounding good."
BRUCE FORMAN TRIO/Formanism: In terms of coming
out with clean, tasty lines, Forman is in touch with his inner
Wes Montgomery, but that’s where it ends. Very much a jazz guitarist
in touch with his own talents, Forman’s first trio date this century
yields nothing less than one stellar track after another. High
octane without being over powering, this is the league leader
for what a contemporary jazz guitar trio should sound like. Killer
CHRIS SPECTOR,MIDWEST RECORD
Forman Trio, Formanism: A new release by the Bruce
Forman Trio! Check it out at the B4Man-Music link above, copies
and downlads available at CDBaby and iTunes, for an autograhed
copy, contact Bruce from the media page on this site.
Forman in residence at USC: Now in his sixth year on staff,
Bruce says, "It is an honor and a privelege to be a part
of such an esteemed institution. The students and faculty are
world class, all contibuting to an inspring environment."
Bop featured at festivals round the world: Montreal Jazz,
Monterey Jazz, Manawatu (New Zealand), Sisters Folk Festival,
Los Angeles Guitar Fest, National Cowboy Gathering (Elko), Santa
Clarita Cowboy Festival, Monterey Cowboy Festival, many more...talk
HIck for the Room! Cow Bop's third! Getting rave reviews,
check it out at: www.cowbop.com
Cow Bop a hit in cyberspace!
On Nov. 19, the band played a concert in the amphitheater at Micheal
Nesmith's Videoranch. The avatars and the studio audience had
a ball and all agreed that Cow
Bop was the best virtual band going!! "The wave of the
future...at yesterday's prices!" exclaimed Bruce. Bruce Forman
makes the cover of Just Jazz Guitar Magazine (August 2006 issue).
Bruce Forman is back
as artist-in-residence this semster at USC's Studio Jazz Guitar
Dept. "What an honor to be asked back. The students and faculty
'On the Edge' a great success!
After playing their way up the California coast with only $100
and unable to live off pre-scheduled gigs (all proceeds were donated),
Cow Bop experienced srtreet roustings, big-time club hits, extremes
sucxh as dining on the $1 meal at McD's to breakfasting at the
Ritz and crossed the finish line victorious on Sat. August 19th.
With a quick stop for a gig they safely delivered Noah Freedman
(fiddle) and Gabe Noel (bass) home in time to start school. Miraculous!
From preliminary indications, the trip was even more successful
in raising funds for
JazzMasters Workshop than either of the previous Route 66
jaunts. You can still make a contribution
and your pledge will be matched, and go to www.wayoutwestmusic.com
to read blogs or view podcasts.
Bruce Forman joins USC
Studio/Jazz Guitar Dept. as artist-in-residence for spring semster.
"I'm looking forward to teaching alongside the great player/educators
there and to working with the exciting students...the cream of
the crop. Of course, helping share Joe Diorio's position is both
humbling and a great honor," says Bruce. "It'll also
allow for more playing time down south."
Cow Bop to enter studio
in late-Jan. to being recording their next CD. More Cow-lifornia
swing we presume! Slated to guest on this recording are: Noel
Jewkes and Richard Chon; along with Cowboppers David Jackson,
Dan Robbins, Mike McKinley and Pinto Pammy. Release is scheduled
Cow Bop takes Monterey
Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival by storm. Three separate performances
and a middle school visit. Lots of swingin and tons of fun!
Roger Kellaway Trio:
On the heels of the successful Bobby Darin Tribute CD, Roger's
Trio w/Bruce and bassist Dan Lutz will be recording a follow up
CD. Some of the tunes slated are: Killer Joe, 52nd St. Theme and
Cow Bop revisits Route 66 Challenge
in support of JazzMasters Workshop. Daily blogs are posted at
"It was an odyssey not for the faint of heart...and one'
I'll not soon forget," said Bruce.
Bruce Forman joins New Zealand's Massey University (both Wellinton
and Auckland campuses) as 'artist-in residence'. First session:
Bruce goes to The Fire Station in San Marcos,TX (just outside
Austin) to record a three-guitar swing session--American-style.
Rounding out the trio is none other than Rich O'Brien and Whit
Smith. Let's hope for a imminent release!
Bruce Forman to perform
at Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival, in guitar summit,
Sat. Dec. 4, at 10:30AM. (Check out photos in Cowboys & Indians
Magazine's April 2005 issue)
to use Bruce Forman's guitar tracks for Million Dollar Baby! "Clint
wrote and scored an intriguing piece of music and asked me to
adapt it for guitar. I'm glad he liked it and is using it. I can't
wait to see/hear it!" exclaimed Bruce.
Roger Kellaway Trio
goes into studio to record Bobby Darin Tribute, Nov. 6-8, in Ojai,
CA. Look for its release in mid-December. Featured are: Roger
Kellaway, Bruce Forman and Dan Lutz.
Cow Bop takes to the open road again (october 18), this time the
route is California's Gold Country. Read all about it!
Bruce asked to join pianist
Roger Kellaway's new trio, first gig is October 28 at the Vic
in Santa Monica.
Bruce to be honored
for commitment and contribution to Monterey Peninsula at the Seaside
Jazz & Art Show, Sept 11, Oldemeyer Center, Seaside, CA.
Bruce Forman performs
and teaches at The North Wales International Jazz Guitar Festival.
Other performers/terachers included: Martin Taylor, Ulf Wakenius,
John Pisano, Al Viola, Bobby Broom, Sid Jacobs and Trefor Owen
(who organized the festival along with Maureen Hopkins). Pictures
can be found on luthier Stefan Sonntag's website: www.sonntag-guitars.com
Bruce Forman chosen to lead
masterclass in jazz at the prestigious
Bertinoro Music Festival (di Dante Allegheri) in Italy. August
Route 66 Challenge a huge success!
The band crossed the finish line May 21, two weeks after their
departure from Chicago...with $12 to spare! Check out the detials
(journals,pictures) at www.wayoutwestmusic.com.
The band Cow Bop raised funds in dsupport of JazzMasters Workshop.
March 23: Getting
their kicks on Route 66
66 Challenge' in support of JazzMasters Workshop. Departing
Chicago with a full tank of gas and $100 we will busk, barter
and bebop our way to LA. Please support us with your tax-deductible
Off The Road coverage
Herald GO Section, Thursday March, 11, 2004
JazzMasters Workshop and Laguna
Beach Live announce a partnership with celebratory concert
featuring jazz guitar legends, Bruce Forman, Mundell Lowe, John
Pisano and Phil Upchurch, along with Luther Hughes, Paul Kreibech
and JMW alumni, February 21
Tribute to Barney Kessel
w/Bruce Forman, Mundell Lowe and Ned Boynton.
Feb. 10 Workshop* 5:00-7:00pm, students free, adults $20. Concert
at 9:00pm, Jazz at Pearl's, San Francisco *Made possible in part
by grant from the D'Addario Foundation for the Performing Arts
with support from J.D. D'Addario & Company, Inc. & D'Addario
Tour of Italy:
Bruce Forman leads trio w/Marco Marzola (b) and Luca Nanni (d)
See calendar page
-- a western swing/bebop band--goes into studio to make first
CD. Besides Bruce Forman and bandmates: PintoPammy, Mike McKinley
and Dan Robbins; the recording features Dan Hicks, David Jackson,
George Young and Richard Chon. Release is scheduled for March.
Down Beat Magazine Article featuring
JazzMasters Workshop: Jazz on Campus,
in Dec 2003 issue Kids
Grooving to Jazz; New York Daily News coverage of JMW program
Bruce Forman presented with
award for "contributions and
commitment to the art of jazz guitar" by Monterey Jazz Festival
during perfomance, September 20, 2003.
Bruce Forman joins
Jack Wilkins, Mundell Lowe, Julian Lage and JazzMasters Workshop
Generations Band at Stanford Jazz Festival's Guitar Summit, August
Coast Weekly designates Bruce
Forman as one of "Ten Heroic
Citizens of Monterey County"
Bruce Forman receives prestigious "Discretionary Award"
from Jazz Journalists Association
Bruce Forman's first published novel hits streets in April 2003.
The book is well-received by critics and readers for its zany
characters and portrayal of the jazz life.
Getting Kids Jazzed!
Monterey County Herald feature story, January 6, 2003