237

Tim Berne: Open, Coma

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Saxophonist Tim Berne's usual comfort zone (to the extent he ever really gets comfortable!) lies in smallish groups. Some of his best material has been performed in quartets and sextets. But on Open Coma, he throws the gates open to the Copenhagen Art Ensemble, whose 11 members mix with Berne's long-time collaborators Marc Ducret and Herb Robertson. The big band does his music justice.

The four pieces on this two-disc set are generous in length, stretching from 28 to 46 minutes. Obviously this is not music for people with a short attention span. But since the pieces are arranged in relatively bite-sized chunks, the listening experience doesn't require all that much effort. Radio hits these are not, though ironically the recording was produced for exactly that medium. (Apparently the Swedes and Danes still have some bandwidth left on the dial for serious music.)

In the grand tradition of free jazz big bands, Open, Coma occupies precious space between arranged themes and wide open improvisation. At times it's hard to detect much arrangement at all, and at others there's clearly a sense of order. Berne, Ducret, and Robertson each play major roles as soloists, but as often as not they yield to the members of the Copenhagen Art Ensemble. This group, conducted by Ture Larson, has no trouble navigating the waters of freedom. In fact, some of the choicest moments on this set arise when the CAE members engage in spirited conversation.

This recording also presents an exception to Berne's usual hard-edged approach to composition and performance. Rather than bustling in and around quirky rhythms, these tunes tend to emphasize texture and space. Sure, there's plenty of energy at times, but there are also plenty of quiet, reflective moments. The first half hour of "Eye Contact," for example, offers generous space and some tastefully lyrical playing. Berne lends his voice here, sounding as soft and engaging as he's been on record. But there's more. As the group rolls off a horny arrangement halfway through the title piece, Marc Ducret steps in to deliver a sharp electric improvisation that travels through free space and eventually returns to support the big-band reprise. Somehow, despite the changes of scenery, it all sounds very connected.

In many ways Open, Coma represents a new approach for Tim Berne. Never one to get too comfortable in any given place, he's taken a risk here by blowing up the size of the group and opening up its sound substantially. It pays off.

Visit Screwgun Records on the web.


Track Listing: Disc One: Open, Coma; Eye Contact. Disc Two: The Legend of P-L; Impacted Wisdom.

Personnel: Tim Berne: alto sax; Lotte Anker: soprano, tenor sax; Thomas Agergaard: tenor sax, flute; Peter Fuglsang: clarinet, bass clarinet; Herb Robertson: trumpet; Lars Vissing: trumpet; Kasper Tranberg: cornet; Mads Hyhne: trombone; Klaus Lohrer: bass trombone, tuba; Thomas Clausen: piano, fender rhodes; Marc Ducret: guitar; Nils Davisen: bass; Anders Mogensen: drums; Ture Larsen: conductor.

Title: Open, Coma | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Screwgun Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Circles" CD/LP/Track Review Circles
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "Xabregas 10" CD/LP/Track Review Xabregas 10
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 19, 2016
Read "Pastures" CD/LP/Track Review Pastures
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 26, 2016
Read "The Final Concert" CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "The Company I Keep" CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 9, 2017
Read "First Man" CD/LP/Track Review First Man
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.