Tim Berne / Michael Formanek

Ornery People

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These sessions were done at the Mat Bevel Institute in Tuscon, AZ, between alto/baritone saxophonist Berne and acoustic upright bassist Formanek. These days Berne is more free of clich├ęs than ever before, and his sound on alto defined and refined. Formanek is simply one of the more workmanlike, reliable swingers or improvisers on his instrument, whichever he chooses. The near-13-minute "Jiggle the Handle" finds the two relatively restrained and in a slower groover before building to a kinetic bassline, Berne still calm before briefly over-blowing his top. "Byram's World," has a steeping, repeated 11/8 figure, letting both loose on this most captivating piece, surely a highlight. "Stubborn Love" has Berne squawky on baritone sax, exploiting its upper register, and in a more soulful timbre alongside Formanek's skittering pizzicato. "Are We There Yet?" is written by Berne but has a 3-plus minute bass intro by Formanek, while "Emerger," penned by Formanek, has Berne leading solo. These pieces spotlight Bern's salty alto inquisitive and up on the former cut with probing bass pushing edges, the latter prompting more sonic blasts. "Brincident" is a 14-minute improvisation with a unison groove line that feeds into Bern's baritone, plugging in on a lower voltage jolt leading to screaming shock waves of sound, then settling down, and departing, Formanek riding shotgun all the way on his contrabass. These two are well in tune with each others notions, providing listeners with a golden opportunity to hear both of them in a natural setting that sometimes can be covered up by a larger grouping.

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