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Hear This: Tim Berne's Snakeoil at 2133 University Avenue 

Wednesday, Apr 29 2015

Veteran New York City saxophonist Tim Berne plays a mystical kind of avant-garde jazz that aims to transport listeners to uncharted soundscapes. Channeling the massive power, geometric shape-shifting, and pan-cultural fusion of avant-garde pioneers like Ornette Coleman, Anthony Braxton, and Henry Threadgill, the band leader and his virtuosic quartet Snakeoil present wide-roving compositions that build awesome energy, oftentimes over very lengthy (10- or 20-minute) stretches, by constantly layering and shifting the instrumental focus. Defying expectations, alto sax, clarinet, acoustic and electric guitar, piano, and a range of percussion (from trap set to vibraphone to timpani) variously share leadership roles as the music grows in intensity and kaleidoscopic color. At any given time, the drums might steal the melody from the reeds just as the guitar or piano might bang out an off-kilter beat or expand the intricate harmonies by forging new directions with strangely interlocking single-note lines. It's a blazing 21st century music that may change the way you hear.


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Sam Prestianni


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