Friday, February 10, 2012

The Energy & Ecstasy of Tim Berne

Tim Berne's great double album, The Sublime and Science Fiction Live, is one of those pieces of music that sat on my iPod for a long time before I managed to listen to all of it.  I just couldn't quite hear it.  Mr. Berne ought not to consider that an insult.  The same thing happened when I first listened to Brahms' First Piano Concerto, a piece of music I later came to deeply love. 

I am not calling Berne Brahms just yet, but there is definitely a modern classical element to his compositions.  A lot of his music earns the Science Friction title, as if a bebop box set had been captured and dissected by an extra-terrestrial quartet.  Okay, but there's power in that there saucer. 

I have been playing 'The Shell Game' from the above named recording, and right now it is sporting a five star approval.  Here is the lineup from Discogs:
I shelled out for another Berne Album, The Shell Game. Amazon is only charging about four bucks for it.  I note that Matthew Ship is listed as a producer.  Here is the trio:
  • Berne on alto, 
  • Craig Taborn on keyboards and sci-fi, and 
  • Tom Rainey on drums.  
Wow do I like that number.  Like a lot of Berne's music, it reminds me of Ken Vandermark and especially of the DKV Trio recordings.  It is avant garde in structure, a linear melody line that never quite closes.  But it builds in emotional intensity the way the best DKV compositions do: contradicting the commonplace that what goes up must come down.  This album is superb.  Buy it.  I did. 

Jason Crane has an interview with Tim Berne on his marvelous podcast show The Jazz Session.  I haven't listened to it yet, but that's on the agenda for this weekend.  I find myself enjoying an embarrassment of riches where jazz is concerned.  Check out Jason's page.  Tell'im Blanchard sent ya.

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