After a period of silence, Tim Berne is back with a flurry of recorded activity. The composer/saxophonist released sessions in a binge manner from the mid-1980s through the mid-90s, first Columbia, then later JMT. He went on to start his own label Screwgun to document his activities and release long out-of-print music by himself and his mentor Julius Hemphill.
But then he needed these numerous discs to document his varied bands and associations from Bloodcount (with Chris Speed, Michael Formanek, and Jim Black), and Miniature (Herb Robertson and Joey Baron) to varying bands with David Sanborn, John Zorn, Marc Ducret, Tom Rainey, and the Italian band Enton Eller.
After this brief silence comes a flood of significant recordings including: The Shell Game (Thirsty Ear) with drummer Tom Rainey and Craig Taborn on electronics/keyboards, Open, Coma (Screwgun) recorded with the 13-piece Copenhagen Art Ensemble, Science Friction (Screwgun) with Taborn, Ducret and Rainey. These sessions of late find Berne adding electronics to his compositions from keyboards to digital effects.
The Sevens explains Tim Berne's vision of the history of music, from composed to improvised to re-mixed. Although all the compositions on this disc are by Berne, he only plays his alto saxophone on one track, "Quicksand." It is the centerpiece of this recording. The twenty-five minute, twenty-second track has Berne and guitarist Marc Ducret improvising over and around the chamber saxophone quartet's playing. But then, I am getting ahead of myself.
The disc opens with the ARTE saxophone quartet playing Berne's composition "Repulsion," (think chamber music) a four melody dialogue. He then has sound engineer (think DJ) remix "Repulsion" into "Reversion," chock full of studio effects. The stuff DJ's do. Finally, Berne and Ducret revisit "Repulsion" on "Quicksand" with the ARTE Quartet, playing along and improvising throughout the chamber quartet's playing. He has thus spanned the (abbreviated as it may be) history of music from composed to improvised to the modern re-mix.
Berne even repeats these experiments on a smaller scale with Ducret's solo guitar on "Sequel Why," which was recorded a second time as "Sequel Ex." Both tracks are followed up with David Torn's sonic redistribution (Berne's terminology, not mine) of the Ducret improvisation of the Berne composition. It all makes perfect sense.
Tim Berne - Alto Saxophone; Marc Ducret - Acoustic Guitar; David Torn - Electric Guitar, Loops, Sonic Manipulations; ARTE Quartet: Beat Hofstetter - Alto Saxophone; Sascha Armbruster - Alto Saxophone; Andrea Formenti - Tenor Saxophone; Beat Kappeler - Baritone Saxophone.
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