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Tim Berne
Snakeoil

Tim Berne alto saxophone
Oscar Noriega B♭ and bass clarinets
Matt Mitchell piano
Ches Smith drums; percussion
 
Simple City
Scanners
Spare Parts
Yield
Not Sure
Spectacle

Recorded January 2011

ECM 2234
 
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After compelling contributions to ECM discs by David Torn and Michael Formanek, here is Tim Berne’s first leader date for the label. “Snakeoil” introduces a fascinating ensemble, a “chamber-like group” in Berne’s words, albeit one that packs some power. Tim’s tough alto is heard with Oscar Noriega’s earthy clarinets, Mat Mitchell’s cryptic piano, and Ches Smith’s tone-conscious drums, tympani, gongs and congas. Berne: “I'd decided on this very transparent instrumentation to try and avoid obvious stylistic references and to focus the listener on the musical ideas being presented.” Two years of wood-shedding preceded the recording of “Snakeoil” at New York’s Avatar Studios early in 2011, and the band was ready to roar. The disc is issued on the eve of a tour that takes in dates on both sides of the Atlantic.

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