Tim Berne: Works for Saxophone Quartet and Trio
Composer Portrait: Tim Berne
Please join Ars Nova Workshop for part one of our two-night Composer Portrait: Tim Berne series, featuring two compositions for saxophone quartet - "Repulsion" and "Quicksand" (also with Berne and Marc Ducret) - and a performance by Berne's acclaimed longstanding trio Big Satan. The New York Times' critic Nate Chinen sits down (6:30-7:30pm) with artist Steve Byram to discuss Berne's body of work.
Saxophonist/composer Tim Berne was born in Syracuse, NY, in 1954, and purchased his first alto saxophone while attending Lewis and Clark College in Oregon. A fan of R&B and Motown music, he was not particularly interested in jazz until he heard saxophonist Julius Hemphill's album Dogon A.D. Immediately inspired by Hemphill's ability to project R&B soulfulness in a creative jazz context, Berne traveled to New York City in 1974 and located the saxophonist. A mentor-apprentice relationship evolved, providing Berne encouragement for his musical endeavors as well as lessons in how to operate independently. Hemphill, founder of the World Saxophone Quartet and a major figure in the 1970s New York loft jazz scene, died in 1995 leaving a considerable imprint on creative music but with his greatest promise unfulfilled. To this day, Berne, who has explored a singular and uncompromising musical path, cites Hemphill as a significant and continuing influence on his work.
In 1979, Berne founded Empire, his first record label, and released four albums over the next four years. These recordings featured a number of musicians who had - or would soon have - stellar reputations including Paul Motian, John Carter, Olu Dara and Nels Cline. Subsequently, Berne released recordings on Soul Note, Columbia (one featuring guitarist Bill Frisell) and JMT, which climaxed with the historic Paris Concerts given by his quartet Bloodcount, released in three volumes (Lowlife, Poisoned Minds and Memory Select). In 1996 Berne founded his second record label, Screwgun, and has since released many recordings featuring his ongoing projects such as Big Satan, Hard Cell (with Craig Taborn and Tom Rainey), Paraphrase (with Drew Gress and Rainey), David Torn's Presenz and Buffalo Collision (featuring The Bad Plus' Ethan Iverson and David King). Over the years, Berne has also performed with John Zorn, the Julius Hemphill Sextet and Baikida Carroll, and his work has been commissioned and performed by such ensembles as Rova Saxophone Quartet, Kronos Quartet and Copenhagen Art Ensemble.
"Mr. Berne, a vigorous and exploratory alto saxophonist, makes interplay the driving force in his band with the guitarist Marc Ducret and the drummer Tom Rainey." -The New York Times
Collide Quartet brings together four multi-reed players vital to the New York scene, creating, adapting, interpreting and performing works for saxophone quartet and improvisations that draw on the entire sound world of the instrument, while building a new repertoire to shatter old conventions. Collide debuted at Tonic (New York City) in October 2003 and have since collaborated with So Percussion (at Brooklyn Academy of Music) to perform Dutch maverick Louis Andriessen's "Workers Union" as a saxophone-percussion octet. They have worked with composers Michael Gordon (premiere of "Low Quartet" for saxophone quartet), Pulitzer Prize winner David Lang (premiere of "Wed" for saxophone quartet), and performed the US premieres of Tim Berne's "Repulsion" and German woodwind maestro and composer Gebhard Ullmann's "Hell und Bunt." Aside from re-arranging overlooked string quartet repertoire by Igor Stravinsky, Collide is currently working on re-envisioning classic music by Jimmy Giuffre, Sun Ra, Roscoe Mitchell and Ruth Crawford. Members of the Collide Quartet also perform regularly with and Bang on a Can All Stars, Alarm Will Sound, American Composers Orchestra, Slavic Soul Party, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Balkan Beat Box and many others.
Ars Nova Workshop is a Philadelphia nonprofit jazz and experimental music presenting organization. As a facilitator between artists and their audiences, Ars Nova Workshop works to inform, inspire and challenge listeners in order to elevate the role of jazz, improvisation and experimental music in contemporary culture.