• Michael Formanek, second from left, with Tim Berne, Craig Taborn, and Gerald Cleaver

In the 90s fans of adventurous jazz and improvised music could hardly avoid bassist Michael Formanek even if they wanted to—he was a robust, driving, and empathetic presence on many records, especially those made by Bloodcount, Tim Berne‘s powerful quartet with fellow reedist Chris Speed and drummer Jim Black. The bassist was a crucial anchor in that band’s complex, interlocking music, whose sound has been carried on by a new generation in New York and London—in the latter city, Bloodcount sometimes seems like the Velvet Underground of the current avant-garde jazz scene.