Tim Berne

Sanctified Dreams

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Sanctified Dreams was the second of two albums recorded by saxophonist/composer Tim Berne for Columbia and, if it falls short of the dense, chaotic heights of the first release (Fulton Street Maul), it offers its own rewards. One of Berne's central strengths as a composer is his command of long forms, of constructing rich, intricately intertwined pieces with multiple themes that merge and fracture with a wonderful internal logic. For this album (perhaps due to pressure from the label?), the compositions are shorter and Berne seems a bit constrained, as if unable to pour into each song all the ideas he'd like. The themes also sound a little choppier than the expansive, bluesy motifs one had come to expect, though one can still detect strong hints of the writing style of one of his teachers, Julius Hemphill. Even so, his stellar ensemble remains well worth hearing; drummer Joey Baron especially gives fine indications of his later, beautiful work with Naked City and Masada. A special treat, on the song "Terre Haute," is the vocal work of cellist Hank Roberts, who delivers a plaintive, almost Appalachian, yodel. Berne would go on to create a fine body of work in subsequent years with his Caos Totale and Bloodcount bands, but this album and, more so, the preceding effort give a good representation of his work in the mid-'80s.

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