Saxophonist Tim Berne returns to record a second disc with the Italian band Enten Eller. This date like the 1999 recording Melquades, also on the Italian Spasc(H) Records, is more than a blowing session. Additionally, this recording is also more than either Berne fitting into Enten Eller’s musical system, or they his.
Trumpeter Alberto Mandarini (Italian Instabile Orchestra) is a flash fire horn man capable of tossing notes like a rapper’s insults. He can also stretch lengthy tension-filled lines across a composition. On the opener, “Konos,” Mandarini and Berne run a tandem Ornette Coleman-like melody over the scorched earth guitar of Maurizio Brunod. Throughout, Brunod threatens to tear into guitar-hell, but for the most part checks his outer desires. You have to believe Berne’s presence inspired the ensemble’s composing here. I wouldn't call this Bloodcount/Italia, but there are some BC moments. The quartet plus Berne have the vibe, and the ensemble ability to take melodies and build them into complex and coherent statements where pressure builds to its inevitable musical release. Brunod comes filled with subtle guitar effects that add a backdrop of either ambience on “Pulizie di Natale” or Frisell-isms on “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern.” He also partakes in a bit of Italian folk & blues on the attractive “Traveling Day.”
For his part Berne fits in nicely with these musicians, sticking to an accessible inside sound. The one live track the quintet plays, “7/13,” opens the possibilities of this ensemble to extending their approach, and the boundaries of this music. Bassist Giovanni Maier alternately pulses, walks his bass, and bows the melody. Percussionist Massimo Barbiero is laden with effects here and throughout. You get the sense of unlimited potential listening to these five musicians. The disc closes with a trio of Barbiero, Brunod, and Mandarini in an acoustic setting, playing a chamber jazz composition that redefines the entire conception of this band.