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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tim Berne's Snakeoil: Shadow Man

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Alto saxophonist Tim Berne's Snakeoil is a group that bonds asymmetrical contours into the big picture, where many progressive jazz aficionados often expect the unexpected from this artist who radiates an antithesis to conventional norms. More of the gradual ascensions, tricky time signatures, fractured flows and odd-metered unison choruses come into play on Shadow Man. Berne's neural vibrato lines in tandem with his foil, clarinetist Oscar Noriega ride above complex rhythmic patterns, designed with changeable metrics and alternating discourses. Hence, they keep the listener on the edge with a composite based on discord and ominously crafted melodies. The ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tim Berne's Snakeoil: Shadow Man

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New York-based alto saxophonist Tim Berne has long been regarded one of the Downtown scene's most forward-thinking bandleaders. Among his peers, no other artist has so often fostered the creative talent of subsequent generations; multi-instrumentalist Chris Speed, keyboardist Craig Taborn and drummer Jim Black all spent their formative years playing alongside the veteran saxophonist. Likewise, Berne recently recruited rising multi-instrumentalist Oscar Noriega, pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer Ches Smith as members of his latest project, Snakeoil.Shadow Man is the sophomore follow-up to the multi-generational quartet's critically acclaimed self-titled 2012 ECM debut, signifying the first time the esteemed leader ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tim Berne's Snakeoil: Shadow Man

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When Tim Berne released his ECM debut, Snakeoil in 2012, it quickly garnered some of the best reviews of the saxophonist/composer's career, ending up on a number of year-end best of lists. And why not? With a group already together for a couple years (as Los Totopos), Snakeoil represented a major step forward for Berne, both compositionally and in terms of band concept. All-acoustic, Snakeoil also benefited from label head/producer Manfred Eicher's attention to detail and transparency. Snakeoil, in addition to being a musical high watermark, was Berne's best-sounding release to date. Eicher wasn't present at the Shadow ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tim Berne: Snakeoil

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Tim Berne's previous contributions on the ECM label--guitarist David Torn's Prezens (ECM, 2005) and bassist Michael Formanek's The Rub and Spare Change (ECM, 2009)--represent some of his best work as a sideman. The alto saxophonist's first ECM release as a leader, Snakeoil, not only represents Berne at his best, but also at his most accessible. Berne's quartet consists of outstanding players from the New York jazz scene, all of whom are attuned to Berne's complex free improvisational style of composing. The thirteen-minute opener, “Simple City," is relatively tranquil compared to a piece that might have been at home ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Tim Berne: Snakeoil

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Tim Berne Snakeoil ECM Records 2012 When artists who've already built lengthy careers elsewhere over a period of years (sometimes decades) come to record for Germany's ECM Records, there is occasional trepidation amongst some of their longstanding fans. This is, after all, not just about facilitating the release of recordings; this is a label with a vision, a very personal aesthetic. With over 1,100 titles released across more than four decades, and an expansive stylistic purview that invariably reflects Manfred Eicher's unmistakable imprint, there's an unsupportable myth that the label forces its own aesthetic ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tim Berne / Jim Black / Nels Cline: The Veil

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Recorded live at The Stone in New York City on a sweltering July evening in 2009, The Veil is the debut of BB&C (also known as The Sons of Champignon), an acronym for alto saxophonist Tim Berne, drummer Jim Black and guitarist Nels Cline--veteran improvisers with a long history of collaboration. Cline first recorded with Berne in the early '80s, while Black was a member of Berne's revered '90s era Bloodcount quartet. Unfolding as a single uninterrupted long-form improvisation and encore, the date's indexing points and song-titles were created after the fact for convenience. Despite having no predetermined agenda or ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mr. Rencore + Tim Berne: Intollerant

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Mr. Rencore was formed in 2006 by baritone guitarist Gabrio Baldacci and drummer Daniele Paoletti, who had been playing together for 15 years in other bands. Three years later, they added baritone saxophonist Beppe Scardino. All three musicians are at ease in several genres, with careers that have traversed rock, folk jazz and free improvisation, making them comfortable bedfellows. Adding chameleon-like alto saxophonist Tim Berne--who came in specially for this project--the music on Intollerant is a salivating blend of form and texture that dips into a host of styles to come up with portraits that electrify the imagination ...



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