Alto saxophonist Tim Berne’s Hard Cell trio, with Craig Taborn on piano and Tom Rainey on drums, plays austere, intellectually disciplined, impulsively improvised art music. Earlier albums, like The Shell Game (Thirsty Ear, 2001), derived much of their bandwidth and density from Taborn’s arsenal of electronics and keyboards. Feign feels different because it is Taborn’s first all-acoustic recording with Berne since 2000. As a bass-free acoustic trio, Hard Cell is even more severe, more starkly contrapuntal.
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