Glenn Astarita

Many progressive-jazz enthusiasts anticipate releases when iconic crusaders converge for a musical summit. The artists have collaborated over the years, such as drummer Jim Black’s historic vital cog-in-the-wheel presence in alto saxophonist Tim Berne’s Bloodcount band. And rounding out the trio is Nels Cline, who may be the most versatile guitarist on the planet. Hence, you have a trio that imparts fire and brimstone to an elevated realm of comprehension. Recorded live at The Stone in New York City, this 2009 performance should wreak playful havoc on the willing listener’s neural network.

It’s a swashbuckling endeavor that challenges rigid classification and resides in a nebulous space, tinged with progressive-metal, avant jazz-rock, free-style improvisation and scrunching, jazz-punk. The band soars to the red zone via hyperactive dialogues and punishing rhythms. At times, they screech to a halt then reenergize their muscular assault with off-kilter, electro-acoustic ambience and depictions of the macabre, primarily due to Clines’ keen use of volume control, EFX, and sinuously designed phrasings.

The band exudes an adrenaline induced sequence of mind-bending choruses, brimming with dynamic breakouts, semi-controlled meltdowns and torrid soloing jaunts. However, it’s not superfluous by any stretch. Berne and Cline uncover an abundance of possibilities by approaching the music from numerous gradients and perspectives, complete with flirtatious exchanges and buoyantly administered loose-groove evolvements. The musicians also temper the vacillating flows by creating dusky atmospherics.

They execute a free-form gala with subtle intricacies on “The Dawn of the Lawn,” where Black’s offbeat drills add a multidimensional factor. Therefore, variety is a constant throughout, evidenced by a hardcore and slightly off-center jazz-rock boogie titled “Rescue Her.” In other regions of sound, Berne intersperses low-key sax lines with Cline’s haunting notes to spawn a simile that indicates a temporal depletion of energy.

BB&C yields a cunning mix of musical wisdom that may parallel the denigration of society, shaded with a mischievous glow and witty viewpoint. As a joint venture, the artists are indubitably motivated by the same goals amid a take no prisoners operative that annihilates any interference within the mighty machine’s fluently exercised rite of honor. – Glenn Astarita

Track Listing: Railroaded; Impairment Posse; Momento; The Barbarella Syndrome; The Dawn of the Lawn; Rescue Her; The Veil; Tiny Moment (part 1); Tiny Moment (part 2).
Personnel: Tim Berne: alto saxophone; Jim Black: drums, laptop; Nels Cline: guitar, effects.