Again, there is no explanation for waiting so long to highlight another record from the great alto saxophonist Tim Berne, but there is certainly no shortage of great material on which to focus.
This live double disc album was recorded at Winterthur, Switzerland in April 2003 and released that fall on Thirsty Ear Records and features Berne at the peak of his compositional and performing powers with a phenomenal band comprised of drummer Tom Rainey, keyboardist (including laptop) Craig Taborn and guitarist Marc Ducret.
All the hallmarks of Berne's writing style are there: complexity of melody, harmonizing, shifting of time and rhythm, and lengthy tunes that give the musicians time to develop their interactive processes and soloing.
What adds further to the compelling sound is the electricity (literally) of Taborn's ambient and atmospheric, as well as rhythmic, sensibilities and Ducret's explorations of his guitar, including a remarkable solo on "The Shell Game." Rainey, who has worked with Berne for many years, seems to be able to shift his role on a dime to accompany the other players and has some fine solos to boot.
As for Berne, his playing is always full of interest as he explores melody and harmony in so many striking ways and knows how to play in sync with his bandmates, no matter who they are and in what configuration they are in.
That's one of the most admirable things about Berne--that he writes and plays the music he wants, with the people he wants, and has adhered to that way of doing things for over thirty years. He doesn't get much attention or big album sales. but his commitment to his craft is worthy of support for those who can get into his adventurous explorations in all of the various configurations over the years.
And, yes, this amazing live recording is sublime!