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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tim Berne: Insomnia

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Recorded in the summer of 1997, the previously unreleased Insomnia offers an expanded variation of composer/saxophonist Tim Berne's critically lauded 1990s quartet, Bloodcount. The group, which featured Berne (on alto and baritone saxophones), tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Chris Speed, bassist Michael Formanek, and drummer Jim Black, was widely revered for its ability to fashion dramatic opuses that seamlessly integrated abstracted mutant funk vamps with extended episodes of spectral introspection. Bolstered with a mixed quartet of notable string and brass players, the augmented ensemble extends the expressive range Berne's flagship band was known for.Bloodcount's epic excursions were originally issued by JMT ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Tim Berne: Insomnia

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Tim BerneInsomniaClean Feed2011 In the medical world, a blood count is a clinical tool, a method of aggregating data in order to make a diagnosis. In short, it's a way of picturing the lay of the land and from there determining the best path forward. Alto saxophonist Tim Berne's Bloodcount--Berne, multi-reedist Chris Speed, bassist Michael Formanek, drummer Jim Black and sometimes guitarist Marc Ducret--spent much of the mid to late 1990s doing just that: wiping away dusty clichés in the uptown vs. downtown debates of the era, erring on the side of ...

Tim Berne: The Subliminal Explorations of a Creative Mind

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Fascinated by unconventional and complex ideas, saxophonist and composer Tim Berne has become a creative force, exploring all the possibilities in sound through his fearless and brilliant imagination. Lloyd Peterson: You didn't start playing the sax until you were about twenty. That would take quite a bit of confidence.Tim Berne: I didn't really think about it. In some ways, the more I played the more secure I became. But at the beginning, it was almost easier because I was so ignorant.LP: Was there appoint where you said, “Hey, I'm going to do this seriously?

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tim Berne's Bloodcount: Seconds

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Nearly ten years after their last performance, saxophonist Tim Berne has resuscitated archival recordings of his influential group Bloodcount. The three-disc Seconds includes two concerts from 1997 and a documentary DVD from 1994. Hardly leftovers, the package boasts previously unavailable original compositions and the type of bristling performances that forged the band's reputation. With songs rarely shorter than eleven minutes and several stretching to fifty, Bloodcount was a vehicle for Berne's extended compositions. The labyrinthine pieces tack from sublime delicacy to bombastic skronk and between tight ensemble passages and amorphous forays. With bassist Michael Formanek and then-nascent ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Tim Berne's Bloodcount: Seconds

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Tim Berne's Bloodcount Seconds Screwgun Records 2007

While documentation of saxophonist/composer Tim Berne's remarkable Bloodcount has been most widely available on Lowlife, Poisoned Minds and Memory Select--all culled from four nights in Paris in 1994, released that year on JMT and ultimately reissued in remastered form by Winter & Winter--the intrepid Berne did regroup the band subsequently, releasing live recordings from 1996 and 1997 tours of Europe and the United States on his own Screwgun label.

Seconds, a three-disc set also from Screwgun, consists of two ...

ARTIST PROFILES

Tim Berne: Mind Over Friction

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Alto saxophonist Tim Berne likes to make a small group sound big. “I like the intimacy and the fact that everybody's really involved all the time. Mind Over Friction, a reissue of a live album of his band Science Friction, recorded in Switzerland in 2003, features lengthy passages where Marc Ducret's electric guitar and Tom Rainey's drums bludgeon each other into wild frenetics before the entire group, including Berne and Craig Taborn on keyboards, returns to a theme that's both orderly and chaotic at the same time--the type of music one might witness at a rock amphitheatre.

INTERVIEWS

Tim Berne: Superstitious Pragmatist

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Alto saxophonist/composer Tim Berne's been an enormous presence in improvised music for over twenty-five years. Although he didn't pick up the alto until he was nineteen years old, he had moved to New York City and begun lessons with his great mentor Julius Hemphill by the time he was 20, in 1974. Berne's been notable for his do-it-yourself spirit and his decidedly untimid willingness to get out there and play: he was performing as a leader and releasing records like his debut The Five Year Plan by 1979, effectively doing a great deal of his musical development in the public ...



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