The New York City Jazz Record review by Sean Fitzell


Old and Unwise – Bruno Chevillon/Tim Berne (CF 221)
For this live-in-studio date, Tim Berne engages crafty veteran Bruno Chevillon for a series of improvised duets. Flinty alto contrasts the bass’ resonant warmth- but it’s less the instruments than the personalities behind them that propel the music. “Crossed Minds” erupts in an introductory blast of darting alto runs matched by fleet retorts from Chevillon. Immediate contrast emerges with the spacious suspended tones of “High/Low”, as Berne patiently builds a concluding repeated theme. Chevillon hammers the strings to begin “L’etat D’incertitude” while Berne’s dissonant overblowing gradually recedes and he unfurls fluid lines in response to the bassist’s thrumming. “Au Centre du Corps” similarly opens with alto howls and fluttering percussive bowed bass, featuring extended techniques before rapidly spinning more traditional lines. The pair consistently asserts acute listening. Developed from a buzz of prepared strings and crisply peppered sax, they join in an uneasy consonance of wavering alto cries and bowed bass on “Quelque Chose Vacille”. On “Dissimulable”, they converge so quickly on an ascending-then-descending run that it sounds composed. Berne uses recurring thematic phrases to construct new patterns on “Cornered”, as Chevillon matches rhythmically with scraped strings, before settling into a groove. He raps the bass for percussive resonance, adding texture to Berne’s high-wire theme on the concluding “Single Entendre”. Though perhaps Old in chronology, the startling clarity and responsiveness of Chevillon and Berne’s collaboration belies any notion of Unwise.

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