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Jazz, Contemporary
October 7, 2013

Format: Compact Disc



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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)

Press Quotes

(5 stars) Saxophonist Tim Berne's compositions are never what you expect -- or rather they are totally what you expect if you are hoping to be led to an unanticipated destination in a circuitous manner. Yet, no matter how unique each adventure is, you know that you'll arrive safely, if somewhat addled...Shadow Man is another excellent addition to Berne's discography.

The Free Jazz Collective, (Paul Acquaro), October 15, 2013

(4 stars) Spellbinding examples of Berne's composing ingenuity and the band's agility at running with his ever-mobile ideas...It's edgy, pattern spinning contemporary music, but austere it certainly is not.

The Guardian, (John Fordham), October 4, 2013

(4 stars) The follow-up to last year's widely praised debut, delves deeper into Berne's difficult, beautiful sound world, mixing delicately intricate writing with muscular group improv, executed with utter conviction by Noriega, Mitchell and Smith...compelling.

The Irish Times, (Cormac Larkin), October 18, 2013

(4 stars) Noriega's clarinets uncoil like heavily spiced incense smoke throughout, while Berne himself provides the album's most gripping moments, launching into powerfully intense solos that are somehow playful and as serious as your life at the same moment.

Jazzwise, (Daniel Spicer), December 2013 / January 2014

Paul Motian's Psalm provides some calm amid the sonic storms. Berne is the ultimate no-bullshit musician, and even when articulating the gentle, prayer-like mood of this piece, there is still not a hint of sentimentality in his slightly astringent-toned, beautifully articulated and richly dynamic playing... Shadow Man is a fine addition to his considerable discography.

The Jazz Breakfast, (Peter Bacon), November 6, 2013

Brawlingly vigorous but miraculously responsive ensemble...like all Berne's music, this is full-on, rumbustiously interactive and utterly compelling; it is also carefully balanced, thoughtful and considered.

LondonJazzNews, (Chris Parker), October 10, 2013

More Info

Key Value
Catalogue number 3747708
Barcode 0602537477081
Number of items 1
Packaging type Jewel Case
Imported No
Weight 110g
Dimensions (LxWxH) 143mm x 11mm x 128mm

Disc 1

Track Listing — Disc 1

Song Title Time
1. Son Of Not So Sure 06:41
2. Static 08:01
3. Psalm 04:14
4. OC/DC 22:55
5. Socket 18:52
6. Cornered (Duck) 16:15