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ALBUM REVIEWS

Tim Berne: Incidentals

Read "Incidentals" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

Through three previous releases on ECM, (including the widely hailed 2015 release You've Been Watching Me alto saxophonist Tim Berne's sonic amalgamation Snakeoil has proven itself an often knotty and dissonant band of free creators, making them the perfect vehicle for Berne's often knotty and dissonant musical ideas.But it's mind boggling on many levels how these guys--clarinetist Oscar Noriega, relative newcomer guitarist Ryan Ferreira, pianist and electronicist Matt Mitchell, drummer/percussionist Ches Smith, and producer/guitarist David Torn--sustain the creative, ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Tim Berne's Snakeoil: Incidentals

Read "Incidentals" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Tim Berne's Snakeoil: Incidentals

Read "Incidentals" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

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 ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Brilliant Corners 2016

Read "Brilliant Corners 2016" reviewed by Ian Patterson

Brilliant Corners 2016 Various venues jny:Belfast, N. Ireland March 5-12, 2016 Another Brilliant Corners, a few more brilliant corners. Belfast's fledgling international jazz festival may only be in its fourth year but already it feels like an established part of the city's vibrant cultural landscape, a date in the calendar to look forward to, rather than an event that takes people by surprise. The original three-day festival has grown steadily ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

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

Read "You’ve Been Watching Me" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

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

Read "You've Been Watching Me" reviewed by Mark Corroto

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, ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Tim Berne's Snakeoil: Shadow Man

Read "Shadow Man" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

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, ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Tim Berne's Snakeoil: Shadow Man

Read "Shadow Man" reviewed by Troy Collins

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Tim Berne's Snakeoil: Shadow Man

Read "Shadow Man" reviewed by John Kelman

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Tim Berne: Snakeoil

Read "Snakeoil" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

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. ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Tim Berne: Snakeoil

Read "Tim Berne: Snakeoil" reviewed by John Kelman

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Tim Berne / Jim Black / Nels Cline: The Veil

Read "The Veil" reviewed by Troy Collins

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 ...