Like most bassists, Formanek has done his time as a sideman, most notably with saxophonist Tim Berne's group Bloodcount; but unlike many, he's made an equal mark as a bandleader/composer. His albums over the past decade have been consistently strong examples of smartly written yet physically played small-group jazz, featuring contributions from such players as trumpeter Dave Douglas, drummer Joey Baron, violinist Mark Feldman, and saxophonists Berne, Marty Ehrlich and Greg Osby. His pieces go well beyond familiar head-solos-head territory, deftly winding their way through tricky ensemble parts, solos, and moments of semi-free group interplay. His use of odd time signatures is also remarkable -- despite its complexities, his music retains a strongly propulsive, rock-worthy rhythmic drive. Aside from group efforts, his catalog contains an expert duo set with Berne called Ornery People and a solo bass album from 1998 entitled Am I Bothering You? Serious jazz listeners will find the answer posed by the latter title to be an emphatic "no."