What begins as a kind of modal hymn with “Twenty Three Neo” – complete with pianist Craig Taborn’s mildly incessant five-note phrase, bassist (leader Michael Formanek’s quiet and supportive arco playing shadowed by alto saxophonist Tim Berne’s light, lyrical tone and drummer Gerald Cleaver’s soft percussive flurries – serves as an understated, dramatic backdrop to all that follows. […] Indeed, “The Rub and Spare change” works on you incrementally, to the point where you forget where you started and only know of what you’re hearing at the moment.
John Ephland, Downbeat
Bassist Michael Formanek’s latest album is a masterful work of postmodern jazz noir. […] “Too Big to Fail”, the last song on the album, serves as an excellent conclusion to “The Rub and Spare Change”. Formanek and company employ all of the musical tools they utilized on the previous tracks: droning keyboard that lulls the listener into a fugue state; staccato saxophone that pierces the song, leaving only scraps of sound; and a jumble of percussion and bass that forces out new rhythms. “The Rub and Spare Change” is an achievement brimming with energy, with creativity, and with a ferocious playfulness lacking in a lot of new jazz.
Michael Kabran, Popmatters
Michael Formanek ist ein Komponist von beachtlichem Format, dessen Stücke manchmal suitenartigen Charakter haben und auf gleichermaßen eigenwillige wie unterhaltsame Weise zwischen Post-Bop und Post-Free-Jazz changieren – und manchmal scheint es, als blinzle Monk irgendwo zwischen den Noten hervor.
Formanek’s highly-rhythmical works set the stage fort hese progressive-jazz icons to expand and explore a variety of unhurried frameworks. With budding fabrics of sound and meticulously crafted themebuilding exercises, Formanek’s scope of compositions engender snappy grooves and capacious movements. These factors allow saxophonist Tim Berne and pianist Craig Taborn to carefully pick their spots and reformulate primary motifs into buoyant crescendos. […] Not overpowering, frenetic, or a modern jazz blowout, the biassist focuses more on evoking moods and using space, time and cadence as an underlying component. It’s a wide-ranging set, speamlessly merging a higher art-form with an equally high entertainment factor. Formanek digs deep and the end results are unequivocally fruitful.
Glenn Astarita, Jazzreview.com
“The Rub and Spare change” ist ein Kleinod der Postavantgarde, dem jedoch auch jedes Understatement fremd ist. Eine gelungene Kombination aus Power und Poesie, die an die ganz großen Momente der Parkslope-Szene in den neunziger Jahren erinnert.
Wolf Kampmann, Jazzthetik
This is a super-smart and genuinely modern brand of jazz whose unique structures and heady atmospheres derive resonance from the composer and ensemble’s miraculously spare touch, which masks some formidable playing chops – a barely contained explosiveness is never too far away.
John Payne, LA Weekly