Tim Berne: Hardcell Live (2004)
Berne is a deft composer of melody, but here he doesn't venture far from his signature style. Thus, the compositions all have a similar manic, zig-zagging quality. As the band's name suggests, it's potent stuff from start to stop. The variety is provided by the improvisational sections, which flow seamlessly in and out of the composed parts and encompass a wide range of dymanics, textures and sounds. Craig Taborn switches from acoustic piano to electric keyboards, employing a raft of effects. His doubling with Berne's crisp alto sax on the melodies makes for a richly layered melodic attack. Rainey is at his best here, shifting from sharply executed scored rhythms to subtle improvised textural effects to wild abandon with no audible effort.
The compositions have much in common with Henry Threadgill's labyrinthine constructions, but Berne's got a keener knack for simplicity and the trio format reveals the music's essence with sharp clarity. The decision to release this as a live recording may have been as much for aesthetic as economic reasons. This is music that is best experienced live. I recommend the recording, but it's not relaxing listening. It's pulse-quickening, which is what most jazz lovers want when we step out to the clubs.
Track Listing: 1 Van Gundy's Retreat Berne 7:30
2 Huevos Berne 10:09
3 Traction Berne 11:28
4 Manatee Woman Berne 16:02
Personnel: Tim Berne Alto Sax
Tom Rainey Drums
Craig Taborn Piano, Keyboards, Electronics
Record Label: Screwgun Records
Style: Modern Jazz