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Tim Berne’s Snakeoil: Shadow Man

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This band’s eponymous ECM debut last year was one of the most acclaimed jazz recordings of 2012. Shadow Man is stronger. It is wilder and deeper, an oceanic extravagance of strange sonic shapes and colors. Yet it coheres according to proprietary logic.

The individual voices in Snakeoil are compelling. Oscar Noriega (clarinets) is free fluidity and light. Ches Smith (drums and vibraphone) unleashes percussive forces in clattering waves, none the same. Matt Mitchell (pianos) is an original in both concept and sound. The remarkable independence of his two hands creates unique jagged designs. His clanging notes command the air. In this company, Tim Berne’s alto saxophone is ferocious as ever, but more focused and concise.

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