Off Minor

Musings of a Jazz geek

Tim Berne: (Paraphrase) ∪ (Big Satan), at the Vortex

Posted March 28, 2007

Tim Berne at the Vortex

I’m just so buzzing right now. Tim Berne was absolutely fantastic tonight (last night); this (Tuesday) was the final day in a three-night residency at the Vortex, organised essentially—I think—to coincide with the release of the new Big Satan live recording Livein Cognito. This long weekend he’s been playing, I gather, in various mash-ups and combinations of his regular touring groups; tonight he was with Tom Rainey (drums), Marc Ducret (guitar), and Drew Gress (bass)—as a quartet—which is essentially a union of his Paraphrase (no Ducret) and Big Satan (no Gress) groups.

I saw Big Satan, also at the Vortex, just under a year ago, and I can’t quite work out the difference between that and tonight; the dynamics were subtly different, I think… Was it just the addition of Gress? Were they playing more strictly tunes, before (or were the tunes just less obvious, tonight)? Every now and then Berne would let slip a fragment of familiar Science Friction-ish melody, but mostly it was two hour-long sets of swirling (what seemed like) pure improvisation.

On record, Berne never really gets to me; when it’s coming out of a pair of speakers in the corner of your bedroom, it over-plays the essentially quite minimalist, deconstructed melodies… and falls a bit flat. Live, it just bursts open; Tom Rainey’s awesome drumming, Berne’s screeching alto driving forward a pulsating, rhythmic maelstrom… Marc Ducret is an awesome presence, himself and his music, teasing sounds out of his guitar as if he’s at one with it… Drew Gress’ bass really pulled things together, filling that little space that’s slightly empty in what I’ve heard of pure Big Satan. What’s great is that everyone is playing together, there’s no obvious “internal dialogue”, no feeding off one another, in the the same way that John Coltrane’s classic quartet had no real “internal dialogue”; they all just play, together, instantly as one group. The brief solos were all fantastic (particularly Gress’, if I may say so), and they’re played to flow through the music; there’s no grandstanding, there’s no everyone-step-back-and-watch, it’s all just sublime… Wow, I think even Tom Rainey cracked a smile…

2 Responses to “Tim Berne: (Paraphrase) ∪ (Big Satan), at the Vortex”

GravatarY said:

#1 (on 15/2/2008 at 11:33 am )

‘Wow, I think even Tom Rainey cracked a smileā€¦ ‘


GravatarTim Berne, at the Vortex, London 27/3/07 | Sax Images said:

#2 (on 21/2/2013 at 2:58 am )

[…] Tim Berne, at the Vortex, London 27/3/07 Image by _mattxb Tim Berne (+ Drew Gress, Tom Rainey’s head and Marc Ducret’s right arm) at the Vortex club, London, 27/3/07… More: […]

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