Pianist Matt Mitchell, a member of saxophonist Tim Berne's Snakeoil, releases a solo album of Berne compositions, taking the reedist's typically frenetic material into unexpected territory, revealing dark beauty and intensely introspective aspects to Berne's music.
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Catalog ID: ScrewMM
Squidco Product Code: 23564
Packaging: Cardstock gatefold foldover with booklet
Recorded at Systems Two in Brooklyn, New York.
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1. Aene 4:16
2. Traces 9:57
3. AAS 13:26
4. Raay 7:09
5. Oerbs 5:08
6. Cloude 13:08
7. Siin 4:59
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"The compositions of iconic saxophonist/bandleader Tim Berne have earned renown for their intensely kinetic, dizzyingly intricate quality as performed around the world by his various groups over the past four decades. With the album f0rage listeners have the chance to experience Berne's music as never before, in versions for solo piano.
Virtuoso pianist Matt Mitchell, a member of Berne's hit band Snakeoil, has explored the full range of the composer's songbook. In fact, Berne says: "No one knows my music better than Matt." On f0rage, Mitchell devises mash-ups of multiple compositions, improvises new angles off the music, and often slows it down to reveal heretofore hidden beauties - limpid harmonies and ruminative melodies, like dark pearls unspooled.
Studio maestro David Torn - a longtime sonic co-conspirator with Berne, as well as producer of Mitchell's past two albums - helmed the recording of f0rage. The cover artwork and distinctive CD package is by Steven Byram, who has worked hand in glove with Berne for decades (including the recent Screwgun publication of their joint art book, Spare).-Screwgun
"Alto saxophonist Tim Berne could have been called, at the dawn of the new millennium, the American artist least likely to join the ECM Records roster. The thought here was that Berne's relentless momentum and frequent agitation and flat out wild man brazenness wouldn't fit in well enough with the European impressionism/Nordic cool approach (a definite simplification of the way ECM rolls) to attract the attention of ECM Record's head Manfred Eicher. Then Berne appeared on guitarist David Torn's Prezens in 2007, leading to a spot in bassist Michael Formanek's Rub and Spare Change (2010) and Small Places (2012), that opened the door to three sets under his own leadership with his group Snakeoil. Which goes to show that paying too much attention to labels or trying to read Eicher's mind are not recommended activities. All of the above-mentioned sets are highly innovative and uniformly excellent.
So what about a solo piano. Tim Berne's music is too busy, too frenetic. It careens down too many unexpected pathways. It would take an Art Tatum-in a free-spirited state of mind-to tackle that project.
Wrong again. Pianist Matt Mitchell goes solo on Forage, an in depth examination of the compositions of Tim Berne.
Mitchell has released two distinctive CDs under his name on the Pi Recordings-Fiction (2013), and Vista Accumulation (2015), and he has also occupied the piano chair in Berne's Snakeoil from its beginning, appearing on all three of the group's albums. He knows the Berne sound, and with just the piano he recites his singular rendition of that turbulent energy, the fervid and idiosyncratic Berne-ian musical vision. He sounds possessed by percussive demons on "Traces," laying down a density comparable to the Snakeoil sound. But on "Aas" he probes with a deliberate introspection, allowing the tunes off-center beauty to unfold at a measured pace. "Raay" has more sharp angles than a Thelonious Monk composition, a near ballad featuring bursts of delicate flurries. Then there's the stark, prickly, dark urgency and clustered note intricacy of "Cerbs."
Mitchell sits in an immersion of the music, shaping mesmerizing takes on these robust, off-center, compositions. His Forage presents a faithful rendering of Tim Berne's artistry and vision via his superb and personal interpretations, on a distinctive and first rate solo piano recording. His finest to date. And throw in the bonus of the attractive packaging with its weirdly captivating cover art drawings by Steven Byram, the man behind dozens of the previous Screwgun Records covers, making an excellent argument for the continuation of the physical CD."-Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz
Get additional information at All About Jazz
• Show Bio for Matt Mitchell
"Matt Mitchell is a pianist and composer interested in the intersections of various strains of acoustic, electric, composed, and improvised new music. He currently composes for and leads several ensembles featuring many of the current foremost musicians and improvisers, including Tim Berne, Kim Cass, Caroline Davis, Kate Gentile, Ben Gerstein, Sylvaine Hélary, Jon Irabagon, Travis Laplante, Ava Mendoza, Miles Okazaki, Ches Smith, Chris Speed, Tyshawn Sorey, Chris Tordini, Anna Webber, Dan Weiss, and Katie Young.
He is an anchor member of several significant creative music ensembles which integrate composed and improvised music, including Tim Berne's Snakeoil, the Dave Douglas Quintet, John Hollenbeck's Large Ensemble, Rudresh Mahanthappa's Bird Calls, Jonathan Finlayson's Sicilian Defense, Dan Weiss's Large Ensemble, Steve Coleman's Natal Eclipse, the Darius Jones Quartet, Kate Gentile's Mannequins, Mario Pavone's Blue Dialect Trio, Anna Webber's Simple Trio, Ches Smith's We All Break, Michael Attias' Spun Tree, Ohad Talmor's Grand Ensemble, and Quinsin Nachoff's Flux. He is also among the core performers of John Zorn's Bagatelles.
Musicians with whom he performs and has performed include Jon Irabagon, Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth, John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet + 1, JD Allen, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green's Apex, Rez Abbasi's Invocation, Lee Konitz, Kenny Wheeler, Ralph Alessi's Baida Quartet, Dave King's Indelicate duo, Amir ElSaffar, Marc Ducret, David Torn, Vernon Reid, Clarence Penn and Penn Station, Linda Oh, Rudy Royston, Allison Miller, Donny McCaslin, Brad Shepik, and Darcy James Argue's Secret Society.
He has taught extensively with the Brooklyn-based School for Improvisational Music, as well as at the New School, NYU, and the Siena Jazz Workshop. He is also a 2015 receipient of a Doris Duke Impact Award and a 2012 recipient of a Pew Fellowship from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage."-Matt Mitchell Website (http://www.mattmitchell.us/bio/)
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