The turning point here is when if listening to the tracks in sequence which is the most logical thing to do (but not absolutely a compulsory approach, surely) you reach the Tony Malaby break-out part on 'In Turn.' Pray, why? Because As Things Do suddenly unfolds and makes most sense not that what has gone before is massively cryptic just carefully stealthy and abstract. But yet immediately you do suddenly make a connection with the sound that bit more. Approaching 5 years since the release of Elusion Quartet predecessor Time Like This, a global pandemic happening in between, saxist Malaby can to some ears and certainly ours at times more than ever here be Joe Lovano-like and that suits well given how avant-garde Lovano has moved in that direction on recent records such as Trio Tapestry's three albums. But the Formanek formula that surrounds everything compositionally here on this studio album recorded last December in a Brooklyn studio as a leader is very different to that sound fundamentally.
Double bassist Michael Formanek's enjoyable post-bop turn on Vinnie Sperrazza's Saturday recently explores a completely different mood and world view.
As Things Do for avant fans is best on 'Bury the Lede' at the beginning. But head bob away by all means because you can to the rugged off-beats sliding every which way on 'Rockaway Beach'. But then 'Cracked Bells' is a surprise, more one for pianist Kris Davis and drummer Ches Smith to really deliver on and which they clearly do. ('Gone Home' later pairs well with that more percussively serene track.)
The album pulls in various directions. And on 'Entropy' it almost goes full tonto ''free improv'' in a style fans of UK bassist Olie Brice might latch on to. But when Malaby switches to soprano sax on 'I Don't Think So' it's another point of view, and appealingly astringent the swooping in and out is too. His grand statements on the album represent some of the most pleasurable moments on an excellent release that thrives on a multiplicity of inputs and registers that sit well alongside each other all yin and yang.
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Michael Formanek, top. Photo: via Bandcamp