Posts Tagged ‘Tim Berne’


New York @ Night: June 2013

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

From the June 2013 issue of The New York City Jazz Record:

For the second year the Undead Music Festival kicked off with a night of Improvised Round-Robin Duets, but the lineup at Brooklyn Masonic Temple (May 1st) couldn’t have been more of a departure. Simply put, this wasn’t strictly a jazz event. Jazz players did take part, however, and what they’d do with colleagues from vastly different musical worlds was anyone’s guess. There were tech problems — the event could be renamed Soundman’s Nightmare — and some matchups were uncomfortable to watch. Trumpeter Roy Hargrove did well in the groove-based environment of drummer and soundscaper Martin Dosh, but then struggled to make sense of James Chance’s piano and nearly left the stage twice. Going from that to the vocal yowling and guitar feedback of Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, with Chance on alto sax, was less than ideal. But other encounters worked: alto saxophonist Matana Roberts with superstar drummer ?uestlove was a pleasure, and so were the hand-in-glove pairings of pianist Robert Glasper with Vijay Iyer and DJ Spinna, in that order. Julia Holter’s simple keyboard motives and inscrutable, softly sung lyrics played off the cagey electric bass of Thundercat (Stephen Bruner) to cast one of the night’s more memorable spells. Jazz came out strong at the end: Don Byron said his piece on tenor with violinist (and brilliant whistler) Andrew Bird, then yielded to fellow tenor Joe Lovano, who closed with a biting five-minute soliloquy that seemed to say, “Here’s how it’s done.” (David R. Adler)

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Following three nights with his bracing Snakeoil quartet and a night with Dilated Pupils (featuring David Torn), alto saxophonist Tim Berne continued his residency at The Stone with fearsome sounds from a unit he’s calling the Tim Berne 7 (May 11th). The members of Snakeoil — pianist Matt Mitchell, clarinetist Oscar Noriega, drummer Ches Smith — were all on hand as the first set started, but Smith played vibraphone, conga, gongs, cowbells and tambourine instead of drums (the remarkable Dan Weiss took charge of the kit). Guitarist Ryan Ferreira played atmospheric chordal washes and slightly overdriven lines but got a bit obscured in the tumult. (The next night he joined Berne in the more exposed quartet setting of Decay.) Bassist and longtime Berne associate Michael Formanek was in total command of the dense written material, and there was a lot: first “Lamé No. 3,” then “Lamé No. 4” and finally the suite “Forever Hammered,” a series of tightly executed themes, solo spotlights and seamless transitions that grew over the course of 30 minutes or more. The group approached Berne’s long, spooling unison lines and counterpoint with furious intent, heightening the music’s dissonant barbed-wire quality. Smith’s locked-in percussion and Weiss’s elliptical drumming provided rhythmic flux and raw power, urging the band to let loose. Berne and the ensemble roared, but when Smith’s vibes and Noriega’s bass clarinet worked in tandem, the band took on a warmer chamber-like identity. (DA)


Six Picks: March 2012

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

My monthly list of recommended CDs, as published in The New York City Jazz Record, March 2012:

Juhani Aaltonen & Heikki Sarmanto, Conversations (TUM)

David Berkman, Self-Portrait (Red Piano)

Tim Berne, Snakeoil (ECM)

Hans Glawischnig, Jahira (Sunnyside)

Luis Perdomo, Universal Mind (RKM)

Tom Warrington Trio, Nelson (Jazz Compass)


New York @ Night: August 2011

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

In the August 2011 issue of The New York City Jazz Record:

To this point, guitarist Rez Abbasi has focused overwhelmingly on original material, and although his work could be said to sit within the modernist mainstream of jazz, he’s spent little time in public playing standard tunes. That changed when he appeared in a trio setting with bassist Johannes Weidenmueller and drummer Adam Cruz at Bar Next Door (July 2nd). Revisiting the bop and post-bop canon might have been unexpected, but it was perfectly logical — Abbasi’s fluid, rhythmically buoyant lines have always shown a rootedness in swing, even when he’s drawing on South Asian musics in the company of Vijay Iyer, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Dan Weiss and others. The trio led off with a brisk “What Is This Thing Called Love,” and Abbasi chewed up the changes with laid-back precision, forming long strings of ideas with the benefit of a deep, resonant electric guitar sound. No bold-stroke arrangements here: “Alone Together,” “Solar” and Joe Henderson’s angular blues “Isotope” found the group sticking to simple solo rotations and trading of eights and fours. If there was a hesitancy at times during the first of three sets, it was thanks to the newness of the lineup and the casual nature of the gig. But for a warm-up, this was strong and searching music. Abbasi ventured some backwards effects on his intro to Alec Wilder’s ballad “Moon and Sand,” and Cruz found just the right vibe for the tiny room, keeping the volume low without sacrificing intensity. (David R. Adler)

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It’s impressive in itself that bassist John Hébert could gather pianist Fred Hersch, altoist Tim Berne, cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum and drummer Ches Smith under one roof for a Charles Mingus tribute at the Stone (July 2nd). This was Hersch’s Stone debut, his first-ever gig with Berne, and a golden opportunity to hear the pianist grapple with the legacy of his mentor Jaki Byard, a key Mingus sideman. Berne, for his part, was no slouch in the implicit role of Eric Dolphy (perhaps also Jackie McLean or Charles MacPherson). But it was Hébert’s achievement that stood out: his way of featuring these unique voices from across the aesthetic spectrum of jazz, and still capturing the swinging integrity of Mingus’s ingenious works. There was a suite-like structure to the set, and a good deal of reading involved, as the band made its way through Hébert’s arrangements of “Sue’s Changes,” “What Love,” “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love” and “Remember Rockefeller at Attica.” Melodies sang out beautifully, as did Hersch’s richly voiced chords, although there was plenty of unvarnished bite and snarl. Hébert gave everyone, including himself, room to roam unaccompanied. He tacked on clever sonic details, including a glockenspiel line (played by Ches Smith) matching Berne’s alto during “What Love.” The music flowed in and out of defined meter and seemed to revel in its messy, multi-stylistic flux, echoing something Mingus once said to Nat Hentoff: “Why tie yourself to the same tempo all the time?” (DA)


The week on disc (89)

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

In case you missed the last one

Tim Berne, Insomnia (Clean Feed)

Soren Moller, Christian X Variations (Audial)

Diego Urcola, Appreciation (CAM Jazz)

Ohad Talmor, Newsreel (Auand)

Marcin Wasilewski Trio, Faithful (ECM)

Vinnie Sperrazza/Jacob Sacks/Masa Kamaguchi, Barcelona Holiday (Fresh Sound)