The four-person collective project known as Floratone is made up of four well-known individual artists: guitarist Bill Frisell, drummer Matt Chamberlain, and producers/engineers Lee Townsend and Tucker Martine; all of whom have wide-ranging résumés. As a group they have, in the 21st century, built upon the same intuitive, close collaborative spirit that brought producer Teo Macero and Miles Davis together on monumental recordings such as Bitches Brew and On the Corner -- though this group's music is in a different realm entirely. Floratone began simply as a long-planned but very informal marathon improv jam session between Frisell and Chamberlain in 2005. After it took place, Townsend and Martine took the session tapes and trimmed them, focused them, added special effects: loops, samples, and other ambient sounds. They eventually painstakingly transformed them into 11 songs. Delighted with the results, Frisell took the tapes back and wrote string and horn parts into the tunes. He enlisted trumpeter Ron Miles and violist/violinist Eyvind Kang to perform on them, and Union Station's Viktor Krauss to add upright bass. Chamberlain added more tracked layers of percussion onto the bottom end as well. The end result was the self-titled Floratone album, issued on Blue Note in 2007.
In 2009, Frisell and Chamberlain took another stab at improvising together. This time, however, Frisell came armed with more guitars , effects pedals and gear, and Chamberlain set up several drum kits -- all outfitted and tuned differently. When the pair turned over the tapes to the two producers this time, they came up with 13 tunes. Frisell used Miles and Kang again, but employed bassist Mike Elizondo on electric as well as upright bass, and brought in producer/composer/multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion to add various keyboards and samples. Floratone II was issued by Savoy in March of 2012. ~ Thom Jurek