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Paraphrase: Please Advise

Dan McClenaghan By

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Saxophonist Tim Berne has taken his Snakeoil group to the top, with four excellent CD releases on ECM Records, including 2017's Incidentals. The ECM label is considered by many to be the gold star standard in terms of jazz—though the word "jazz" is way too confining to describe the music in their extensive catalog. That level of success for Berne and his bands could overshadow his work on his own label, Screwgun Records, where his releases include offerings by his numerous ensembles: Big Satan, Blood Count, Paraphrase and Hard Cell.

With Screwgun, Berne goes a good deal with the current trend—a perhaps inevitable one—in that most of what he has available there comes in the download format. Bucking that trend, 2018 sees his re-release on CD of his Paraphrase group's Please Advise, recorded in 1998.

Berne's vision was focused then. It is now. Paraphrase is a trio, no chording instrument: Berne on various saxophones, Drew Gress on bass, bolstered by the clatter of calamity-master Tom Rainey in the drummer's seat. They are raw, often raucous in their improvisational explorations. Here, as in previous recordings, they push the limits of propriety. In the best possible way.

The music sounds like stuff made by hard core New York guys. It sounds like a bad-assed city soundscape, like the trash trucks grinding, hoisting dumpsters, then grumbling on down the alleyway, where a rumble is going down.

Please Advise, with its two very extended pieces—forty-one and twenty-five minute in duration—rambles and rollicks and rolls; it explores portentous reveries and a rough hew tenderness at times. And when the mood strikes, it riots. Bracing stuff. Nice to see it available on CD again.

Track Listing: Critical Mass; Good Evening.

Personnel: Tim Berne: alto, baritone saxophones; Drew Gress: bass; Tom Rainey: drums.

Title: Please Advise | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Screwgun Records


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