Saxophonist/composer Tim Berne is noted for his searing climactic opuses and strenuously complex improvisations. Besides, he possesses one of the most distinctive alto saxophone styles in all of modern jazz. With this 2002 release, the artist pursues a series of chamber-like compositional frameworks rendered by the four saxophonists of the ARTE Quartett. Berne also utilizes his longtime musical associate Marc Ducret (acoustic guitar) during two solo works amid his group-based involvement. In addition, Berne's alto work is prominently featured on the extended arrangement titled "Quicksand." Here, the leader serves as the fifth sax voice, while the ARTE Quartett and Ducret partake in a series of contrapuntal movements fabricated upon alternating melodies and pumping lines. However, this production is fragmented into movements that feature the ARTE Quartett performing with or without Berne, Ducret, and electric guitar hero/electronics ace David Torn. The musicians execute interweaving choruses marked by contrapuntal statements and tricky time signatures, as innate classical concepts coalesce with jazz-style improvisation. The band raises the bar in spots, and this outing signifies one of Berne's most ambitious statements to date. Another point of interest resides within "Tonguefarmer," Torn and Ducret's stirring yet altogether contradictory acoustic-electric duet. The Sevens indicates a crafty paradigm shift, regardless of whether it signifies a fleeting experiment or a precursor to other projects of this ilk.
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AllMusic Review by Glenn Astarita