Feb 7, 2012
“John Zorn soaked up much of the media attention with his splashy genre-colliding experiments such as Naked City, but based purely on the recorded evidence, it may very well have been Tim Berne who was the definitive genius of NYC’s downtown 1980s jazz scene.” - Time Out magazine.
Tim Berne doesn’t rest on his laurels, and he doesn’t look back. After coming to prominence playing on projects like John Zorn’s Spy vs. Spy, he has utilized his talented saxophone playing and writing with a number of groups over the past thirty years. Whether it was Bloodcount in the 1990’s or Hardcell in the following decade, he is constantly stretching the boundaries of what a jazz band can play or what it can sound like.
With the release of Snakeoil this week (his first studio album in eight years), Berne has renamed Los Totopos and given them a program of powerful new music to play. Joining him on alto sax are Oscar Noriega on clarinet, Matt Mitchell on piano, and Ches Smith on drums and percussion. I spoke with Berne has he prepared for a two month tour of the US and Europe, and asked him about this new group, new music, and new sound. Click here to listen to our conversation, which is supplemented by musical selections:
Tim Berne - “Scanners” and “Simple City” from Snakeoil. After a number of releases on his own Screwgun label, Berne returns to ECM with this accessible yet always stimulating release. This is quiet music for the most part (does ECM release anythign loud?) and builds on the wonderful mix of sax and clarinet.
Tim Berne’s Bloodcount – “Loose Ends” from Unwound. Recorded live in 1996, this is Bloodcount at the bluesiest. The band is Berne, alto and baritone saxes; Chris Speed, tenor and clarinet; Michael Formanek, bass; and Jim Black, drums