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BB&C (Berne, Black & Cline)

Shaun Brady reviews new album from saxophonist Tim Berne, drummer Jim Black and guitarist Nels Cline

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Tim Berne’s prodigious discography is mostly stocked with collections of his monumentally scaled compositions, sprawling musical roadmaps for laborious treks through ever-changing landscapes. These two new releases, however, are both wholly improvised sessions, revealing that the scope of Berne’s thinking is hardly diminished by the absence of sheet music.

The first, recorded in the summer of 2009 in the hothouse environs of John Zorn’s tiny New York spot The Stone, reunites Berne with two longtime collaborators. His relationship with Nels Cline goes back more than 30 years, decades before the guitarist found his star-making day job with Wilco, and Jim Black was the drummer for Berne’s seminal 1990s ensemble Bloodcount. The combination of the three, which for a time went under the name Sons of Champignon, makes for an alchemical fusing of explosive out-jazz and apocalyptic rock punctuated by moments of delicate beauty.

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