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Shadow Man

Compact Disc (Audio)
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Shadow Man
Shadow Man


Stoked by the acclaim for the first, eponymous album from saxophonist-composer Tim Berne's acoustic quartet Snakeoil in 2012, the group has upped the ante with its second ECM release, Shadow Man. Over four years together, Berne and his band of New York standouts - pianist Matt Mitchell, clarinettist Oscar Noriega and drummer/percussionist Ches Smith - have developed a rapport that sounds like communal telepathy.

The studio outcome is a marvel of kinetic action, the six pieces of Shadow Man making for music as visceral as it is cerebral; there is rollercoaster dynamism and aching lyricism, roiling counterpoint and intriguing harmony, glinting detail and ensemble impact. The album is a dizzying experience for the senses, breathtaking - and, ultimately, moving - in its sheer imaginative verve.

Critical acclaim for the first Snakeoil album came from far and wide: All About Jazz described the music as "unpredictable and fresh," while The Guardian called it "an object lesson in balancing composition, improvisation and the tonal resources of an acoustic band." The album made the DownBeat critic's poll of the top 10 best releases of 2012, New York Times critic Nate Chinen listed it as his No. 1 release of the year, and Jazzwise underscored the stature of Snakeoil by declaring it to be "suffused with genuine humanity and more than a little wisdom."

Tim Berne was recently named No. 7 of New York City's top 25 essential jazz icons by Time Out New York, and he was called "a saxophonist and composer of granite conviction" by The New York Times. His 2012 Snakeoil album, Berne's ECM debut as a leader, was his first studio release after eight years devoted to live recordings. As a sideman, he has also made ECM appearances on recent albums by Michael Formanek (The Rub and Spare Change, Small Places) and David Torn (Prezens).

Personnel: Tim Berne (alto saxophone), Matt Mitchell (piano, tack and wurlitzer pianos), Oscar Noriega (clarinets), Ches Smith (drums, hand percussion, vibraphone)


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