4 stars

The Brooklyn-based saxophonist curbs his more rampaging instincts for a well-rehearsed, free-flowing and lyrical chamber-jazz quartet that tempers its improvised freedoms with firmly written structures that unfold and switch mood like shifting sand.

There are left-field flutters and explosive thumps from drummer Ches Smith, and atmospheric acoustic piano from Matt Mitchell that makes a bass redundant. Berne spins melody with a strong tone and forceful articulation and Oscar Noriega adds woody-toned clarinet to the twisty theme’s, acting as both contrast and foil.

Tim Berne

Snakeoil

(ECM)

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