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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tim Berne's Snakeoil: Incidentals

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Tim Berne's Snakeoil band makes its fourth ECM appearance on Incidentals. The core group of saxophonist Berne, clarinetist Oscar Noriega, pianist Matt Mitchell and percussionist Ches Smith was augmented by guitarist Ryan Ferreira, as it had been on the previous album You've Been Watching Me (ECM, 2015). Producer David Torn also made two brief appearances on guitar. The integration of composition and improvisation typical of Berne's work is especially pronounced in this program. “Hora Feliz" opens the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tim Berne's Snakeoil: Incidentals

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Of the formal Tim Berne groups dating back to his 1990s Caos Totale, only his Bloodcount formation has a larger output than Snakeoil. From its 2012 self-titled ECM debut, four of its five releases have been on the ECM label, with only the limited edition Spare (2015) appearing on Berne's Screwgun imprint. Incidentals continues Berne's experimentation in expanding aural soundscapes, bringing the alto saxophonist/composer to a wider audience without compromising his unique approach. The group functioned as a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tim Berne's Snakeoil: You’ve Been Watching Me

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In the course of his long and prolific career, alto saxophonist/composer Tim Berne has been more of a musical agitator than a mediator. While that's a positive characteristic of Berne's creative process, it is also a demanding one for all concerned. Berne's tenure with ECM, however, has been marked by a more pronounced move toward balancing restorative musical properties to juxtapose very complex structures. The result of Berne's continued growth is You've Been Watching Me, a high point of his ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tim Berne's Snakeoil: You've Been Watching Me

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The music of saxophonist Tim Berne has invariably raised the question: where have you been? His early self-released sessions (collected in the Empire Box (Screwgun, 1999)) from the late-1970s and early 80s gave no quarter to the neo-conservative jazz movement. Signed by Columbia Records (what were they thinking?) he forged ahead with his incendiary vision, only to be dropped by the label. With no desire to be “discovered" only after he had died, he created the quartet, sometimes quintet, Bloodcount, ...

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, ...

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 ...

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 ...


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