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Tim Berne

An innovative avant-garde improviser, altoist and baritonist Tim Berne has always gone his own way. Born in Syracuse, New York in 1954, Berne did not play music at all until he was already attending Lewis and Clark College, buying an alto on impulse that he saw on sale. He was mostly interested in R&B and the recordings of the Stax label until he heard Julius Hemphill’s Dogon A.D. album, which changed his way of thinking. Berne taught himself the basics, moved to New York in 1974 and searched for Hemphill, who became his mentor. By 1979, Berne was recording and releasing his own albums on his Empire label. He had his own sound and a very explorative style from the start. Berne recorded four albums for Empire, two for Soul Note and two albums for Columbia.

During 1989-95 he recorded in a variety of settings for JMT, being quite prolific. When JMT was purchased by PolyGram and put out of business in 1996 Berne started a new label, Screwgun, to document his music and that of some of the musicians who he admires. He has appeared as a sideman with Bill Frisell, John Zorn, Mat Maneri, Michael Formanek, David Torn and Herb Robertson. Berne has led quite a few overlapping groups through the years, with some of the most notable being Bloodcount, Caos Totale, Big Satan, Hard Cell, Science Friction, Paraphrase and Miniature. He has long been one of the most important members of the New York avant-garde, not only as a highly original musician but for his knowledge of the music business.