Tim Berne, along with fellow alto player John Zorn, has been the most creative force within the avant-garde of jazz since the 1980s. He is one of those people who manages to turn their life into an artistic mission; there is always a new Tim Berne album coming out, and it’s always something new. This 1987 recording for Columbia was his best all-round effort, although it’s not critically acclaimed as such. The tunes and arrangements are memorable and innovative, Berne plays some of his hottest ever alto solos, Herb Robertson’s squawks and squishes on trumpet add a demented touch, and Hank Robert’s cello and weird vocals frame the album in mysticism. There isn’t a weak track or even a weak moment.
Fractured Fairy Tales
Futuristic witches’ broth of an album with all sorts of strange things going on alongside brilliant solos and tunes; check out the old-fashioned computer bleeps that intervene in the middle of Tim’s solo on the catchy first track. The highlight is ‘Evolution of a Pearl’, which evolves into something very beautiful; it takes a while, but you’ll know it when you hear it.
Miniature: I can’t put my finger on it
Surreal tunes played by a trio comprising Berne plus cello and drums; Berne plays lots of honking baritone saxophone as well as his usual alto. The highlight is the almost conventional sounding alto blues number, which manages to be both burning and tongue-in-cheek at the same time.