May 1997

Tim Berne
Memory Select- The Paris Concert
JMT

Somebody has to preserve and advance the spirit of the '70s loft scene, that heady era of experimentation that has been smudged in the collective jazz memory. Count alto saxist-band leader Tim Berne as one of those precious few guardians of that legacy, as heard on his recent series of album recording live in Paris in 1994. On only two extended pieces on Memory Select, Berne's band Blood Count-reed player Chris Speed, bassist Michael Formanek, guitarist Marc Ducret and drummer Jim Black-dodge intuitively in and out of structural passages and mercurial moods. In Berne's music, Euro-chamber aesthetics of organization meet New York downtown grids, lined with free passages. Clocking in at over 50 minutes, "Eye Contact" behaves like a suite more than a tune, working through emotional regions of lament and discord, dialogue and declaration. With the recent reissue of Fulton Street Mall on Koch, from Berne's own fleeting '80s stint on Columbia Records, we're reminded of Berne's subsequent growth and his stubborn dedication to jazz on the far side of complacency.

Originally published in May 1997
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