A pivotal jazz luminary in New York City’s progressive downtown scene, alto saxophonist Tim Berne has notched his name into the record books as an innovator and stylist. His discography and collaborations are well-documented. However, Berne’s a global artiste who recurrently investigates nouveau spins on jazz and improvisation. This release extends metrics and concepts previously exercised with longtime affiliates performing here. Essentially, jazz as a whole reinvents itself as Berne looms as one of its primary motivating forces. He enlivens his famed Bloodcount band, including musicians he’s teamed with in past aggregations on this diagonally executed venture, spanning avant chamber, jazz improvisation and highly-emotive spin-offs.
The musicians broaden their wares on two lengthy works that comprise the album. On the opener “The Proposal,” they project an interesting concept featuring asymmetrical parts avant-garde, progressive jazz, chamber and improvisation. Berne and associates project a fluent transformation between various interludes and segments, teeming with articulately-placed dynamics and intricately rendered unison choruses. With extended passages highlighted by mind-bending dialogues between strings and horns, the artists touch upon minimalist terrain amid garrulous exchanges and colorific contrasts. They merge mini-symphonic movements into the mix as well.
Berne, clarinetist Chris Speed and trumpeter Baikida Carroll generate fervent episodes as a source of counterpoint and collaboration with violinist Dominique Pifarely and cellist Erik Friedlander. Moreover, Marc Ducret performs solely on 12-string acoustic guitar. Throughout, he offers a bridge between horns, strings and rhythmic extrapolations via his slicing and dicing frameworks, off-kilter jazz and cunning improvisational metrics. On the second and final piece “oPEN, cOMA,” we are treated to swirling strings nestled between ominous horns voicings. Marked by swerves, dashes and Carroll’s drifting solo, it is easy to discern that the album boasts numerous flowing mechanisms under the hood.
Insomnia is an outing that plays tricks with your neural network and while not overly-aggressive, there are an abundance of interwoven movements that offer gobs of interest and delight. Berne’s latest project with his longtime band-mates intimates a snapshot of ultra-modernism. The ensemble architects a multihued portraiture that demands repeated listens which is a process that yields various impressions on a continual basis.