(144) , NY Jazz Record Journal --

On The Veil, a project by Tim Berne’s collaboration with drummer Jim Black and guitarist Nels Cline, the alto saxophonist is similarly revealed against a backdrop of aggressive guitar and drums, culled from two sweltering late-June 2009 nights at The Stone. Like Baldacci, Cline takes a page or two from Jimmy Page’s lexicon of hard rock licks to build propulsive vamps, punctuated by dramatic slides and whammy-bar accents, then leavened with clean-toned chromatic sequences and pastoral interludes. Like Paoletti, Black is an assertive player, slamming backbeats with a crisp, stick-on-rim snare sound to create a ferocious push that retains a certain degree of unpredictability. He evokes a ghostly bass presence through laptop algorithms (triggered by his kick drum?), but the overall sound of the date is lighter and brighter than Intollerant. Berne’s style here is more minimalist in the sense that many of his ideas build around short melodic cells - sometimes only a single note or two - that are repeated and varied, creating complex textures from simple elements, though on “Tiny Moment (part 1)” he briefly exposes a more ‘jazz’ sensibility. As on Intollerant, he is the consummate ‘conversationalist’, moving easily through a series of musical mood swings with Cline and Black. In general, Berne is more of a muralist than a portrait artist, rendering his soundscapes in sweeping visions of vivid color.

Sean O’Connell
NY Jazz Record Journal