Tag Archives: tim berne

Tim Berne’s Snakeoil @ Jazz Standard, Tuesday night

There’s a bit of obsession in the dense beauty of Tim Berne’s music on You’ve Been Watching Me (ECM) – once it nails a motif, it doesn’t let go until it’s been examined and exhausted. The wily saxophonist’s tumult comes in calibrated waves, and each splashes toward one exuberant goal. Like its two predecessors, the new album’s action feels elastic, always morphing to put one of the group’s instruments in the foreground. Sometimes it’s the luscious clarinets of Oscar Noriega, sometimes it’s the steely piano of Matt  Mitchell, sometimes it’s the octopus percussion of Ches Smith. Further amazing – even with the additional density of new guitarist Ryan Ferreira, Berne’s thick ensemble passages find a way to bust out some breathing room while still delivering on the promise of their signature whomp. Give your speakers some real juice while the band gets ultra agile on “Semi-Self Detached” and you’ll likely agree. Arrangement and chemistry FTW. The quintet tends to explode club gigs like their Jazz Standard romp into a million pieces. Be there.

Jazz Standard

Here’s what I said about ’em a couple years ago.

Here’s what Richard Gehr says about ’em this time.

Here’s how Hank Shteamer hears ’em.

Ferreira Comes Onboard

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Tim Berne’s Paraphrase @ Greenwich House Thursday Night

Saxophone trios have a unique equilibrium to deal with, and this rather iconic leftie outfit tickled listeners in the late 90s/early aughts by stressing fluidity above all. Sometimes they flailed to keep from sinking, sometimes they floated to enjoy the atmosphere. Then they split. So this gig is the first time in seven or eight years that Tim Berne, Drew Gress and Tom Rainey have connected, and it’s likely that the mix of pithy melodies and raucous implosions still offers the cranky grace it always did. 

Forget 10, Here’s 20 (Best Jazz Albums of 2012)

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1. Brad Mehldau Trio – Ode  (Nonesuch)


2. John Abercrombie –  Within A Song   (ECM)


3. Kris Davis – Aeriol Piano   (Clean Feed)


4. Ravi Coltrane – Spirit Fiction     (Blue Note)


5. Luciana Souza  – Duo III   (Sunnyside)


6. Paradoxical Frog – Union   (Clean Feed)


7. Ahmad Jamal  –  Blue Moon     (Jazz Village)


8. Billy Hart – All Our Reasons   (ECM)


9. Tim Berne – Snakeoil    (ECM)


10. Orrin Evans – Flip The Script     (Posi-Tone)


11. Ryan Truesdell – Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans  (ArtistShare)


12. David Virelles – Continuum  (Pi) 


13. Vijay Iyer Trio – Accelerando (ACT)


14. Neneh Cherry & The Thing – The Cherry Thing  (Smalltown Supersound)


15. Mary Halvorson – Bending Bridges   (Firehouse 12) 


16. Masabumi Kikuchi – Sunrise  (ECM)


17. Jon Irabagon’s Outright!  – Unhinged  (Irabbagast)


18. Darius Jones Quartet – Book of Mae’Bull  (AUM Fidelity)


19. Steve Lehman Trio – Dialect Florescent (Pi)


20. Frank Kimbrough Trio – Live At Kitano (Palmetto)


Don’t go thinking this list in any hierarchical order – Brad’s not top and Frank’s not bottom. 


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Michael Formanek Quartet @ Jazz Standard, October 1 + 2

On the new Small Places (ECM) the bassist and his crew find ways to have knotty themes tumble with a surprising ease. That kind of aplomb makes complex music sound much more natural, much more seductive, and from the jitters of Tim Berne’s sax to drummer Gerald Cleaver’s poetic rattle, each tune is lined with a deep confidence. Meaning they’re really starting to sound like a band.

Jazz Standard

7:30 pm & 9:30 pm $20. Jazz Standard. 116 East 27 Street.

Video

Team Berne: Just Another Night in Brooklyn 

Tim Berne’s Snakeoil

It was gnarled momentum that initially made me fall for Tim Berne’s music. Some of the cresting swells of early albums like 7X and Mutant Variations helped sell a compositional style that fully values kinetic crescendos. Because he’s a texture fiend, the saxophonist has historically left plenty of room for visceral sounds that up the ante as well. From Fractured Fairy Tales to Bloodcount, his bands have been expert at throwing punches while galloping by.


So I’m wondering why I’m so smitten with the utter grace of Berne’s latest outfit, Los Totopos. He hasn’t made any stylistic switch-ups for his first ECM disc, but the level of refinement that this new music boasts is unmistakable. Surrounded by Oscar Noriega’s clarinets, Ches Smith’s drums, and Matt Mitchell’s piano, the leader’s alto patterns have moved from tumbling to swooping. That momentum mentioned above is still there – parts of Snakeoil, like the drive towards oblivion at the end of “Scanners,” come on like a locomotive – but the group’s unity bevels the turbulence. I got to see the band during several formative gigs, and they were tight. But this disc captures an eloquence that wasn’t there prior.


One of the program’s strong points is the ensemble’s ability to be diffuse yet determined. From the opening speculation by Mitchell (whose ability to render frenzied passages with a gentle touch is crucial to this refinement thing I’m talking about) to the dreamy investigations the band renders on “Not Sure,” Los Totopos concoct the kind of formal informality that the Art Ensemble claimed as their own early on. The start of “Spare Parts” offers jitters inside a feathery reflection. The tune’s mid-section finds everything on constant simmer, waxing supple and prickly at the same time.


Noriega’s pulpy tone is a rich foil for Berne’s signature tartness. Smith’s deep palette of pummel options dodges cliché at every turn. Mitchell, who studied the bandleader’s music as a student, deploys the kind of whimsy that’s imbued with gravitas. Along with Manfred Eicher’s meticulous production, these singular skills help Berne reshape his sound. Together, they’ve found a way of presenting architectural idiosyncrasies as enchanting wrinkles.

http://player.ecmrecords.com/tim-berne-snakeoil/artist

TIM BERNE SEVEN PLAYS AT SHAPESHIFTER LAB TONIGHT 

Ches Smith’s Cong For Brums “Psycho Predictions”


From Baby Dodd’s tumbling his way through “Spooky Drums” to Han Bennink getting giddy on Tempo Comodo, I’ve long been intrigued by the choices a percussionist makes when he or she sets up shop alone. Over the course of three discs Ches Smith has come up with some intriguing turns. Away from noted collaborators such as Marc Ribot and Tim Berne, and under the moniker Cong For Brums, he’s melded his skills at the trap set with his yen for electronics and other percussion instruments. The resultant array of soundscapes are as logical and gorgeous as they are abstract and hermetic. The three on this latest outing are titled “Death Chart,” “Birth Chart,” and “Conclusion: That’s Life.” Using lessons from such mentors as Pauline Oliveros and Alvin Currin picked up during his studies at Mills College, the NYC drummer builds a narrative arc that includes moments of Morse Code mixed with flourishes of doom metal. He calls ‘em etudes, but you can call ‘em the most well-plotted cris de coeur ever – even the bleeps nicked from Pac Man.


Smith, a lanky dude who plays a somewhat tiny drum set featuring a mile-high crash cymbal, recorded Psycho Predictions live, and its improvised design has a deliberate feel. That’s a plus. It may seem like a parade of textured thwacks and buzzes, but each segue does a good job of leading the music away from randomness. “I’m trying to find a way to connect the three instruments compositionally,” he says of the drums, vibes, and electronics. “I had this whole thing mapped out harmonically, but it came together differently than what I had imagined when I set out.” There are giddy passages with a Raymond Scott feel, luminous passages with an Cluster feel, and there’s a moment or two of good old Baby Dodds as well. Smith may do strong work with such associates as Mary Halvorson and Xiu Xiu, but he has no problem creating a load of eloquence on his own.