Michael Bisio Quartet – MBefore

Michael Bisio Quartet – MBefore

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Released March 25, 2022

[TAO 08] – CD in deluxe 6-panel digipak,
featuring liner notes by Matthew Shipp

Michael Bisio: bass, compositions
Karl Berger: vibes, compositions
Mat Maneri: viola
Whit Dickey: drums

The Michael Bisio Quartet is a new kindred-spirit assembly featuring the veteran bassist alongside Mat Maneri (viola), Karl Berger (vibraphone) and Whit Dickey (drums). Their melodiously alluring debut album, MBefore, features the four virtuoso improvisers communing on a set of original compositions by Bisio & Berger, plus a free-minded take on the standard “I Fall in Love Too Easily”.

“This is a banquet, a true feast. It was created by people who gave themselves over to the concept and reveled in the generation of beautiful sound.”
–Matthew Shipp

Michael Bisio has earned just praise for his textured solo performances as well as collaborations with the likes of veteran multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee. But it’s perhaps his 13-year membership in the Matthew Shipp Trio that has earned him widest renown, having toured on both sides of the Atlantic along with recording numerous albums with the pianist. Cadence magazine marveled over the way Bisio’s playing “seems to be produced by sorcery.”

From the liner notes for this album, Shipp writes: “Michael Bisio is one of the greatest bassists on the planet – but this album isn’t about his bass playing. It’s about his humanity. Bisio is a thoughtful group leader who has a knack for bringing the right people together and setting them up in such a way that they feel at one with the group dynamic.”

As for Karl Berger, the illustrious octogenarian vibraphonist remains profoundly on top of his game. Bisio has worked with him regularly since moving a decade ago from NYC up to Berger’s neck of the woods in the Hudson River Valley. As Shipp notes, Berger is “a master of space, a master of restraint, a master of melding his sound in the sonic ambient.”

The pianist adds: “Karl Berger’s melodic force-field is undergirded by a bebopper’s sense of the integrity of the line – with even the most abstract parts having their own swing. Bisio always pushes the music forward with an innate sense of form and pulse. Bookend that with Maneri’s perfect instinct for counterpoint and Dickey as a colorist and painter, and you have this album.” Regarding Mat Maneri – there is no more compelling improviser on a stringed instrument, and his viola sings throughout this album. 

Michael Bisio himself on this album: “MBefore isn’t about four individual soloists or a front line with a rhythm section. The album is about the ensemble and its collective consciousness – it’s about the group aesthetic, with the resulting sound having a transparent quality. With vibes and viola instead of, say, saxophone and trumpet, that means there’s a sonic clarity, even a kind of sweetness. That clarity and transparency allows the contrapuntal quality of the music to really come out, so that you can hear everyone’s lines at once – and the subtle harmonies created by the crossing of those individual lines.” 

( Also noting: track 1, "AC 2.0", is a new communal hearing of Bisio's composition, "Arrested Confusion".  It first appeared as the lead-off track on the great Tani Tabbal Trio album, Now Then. "r. henri" appears on Now Then, too; revealing & rewarding to hear these pairs in close proximity. ) 

1. AC 2.0 - 08:27
2. Sea V 4 WD (Part 2) - 06:51
3. Crystal Fire - 05:50
4. I Fall in Love Too Easily - 08:58
5. Intravenous Voice - 06:38
6. r. henri - 05:57
7. Sea V 4 WD (Part 1) - 09:33
8. Still - 06:46
9. Um - 07:48

1 / 2 / 5 / 6 / 7 (Michael Bisio AMB Music ASCAP)
3 / 8 (Karl Berger GEMA)
4 (Jule Styne)
9 (Bisio, Berger, Maneri, Dickey AMB Music ASCAP)

Recorded by Paul Antonell
at the Clubhouse Studio, Rhinebeck, NY

Mixed and Mastered by Jim Clouse
at Park West Studios, Brooklyn, NY

Produced by Michael Bisio
Cover art: Dawn Bisio © 2021
Liner notes: Matthew Shipp
Executive producer: Whit Dickey
Layout: Ming@AUM