Observed and improved

Tim Berne’s Snakeoil

You’ve Been Watching Me


20th April 2015


Tim Berne: alto saxophone; Oscar Noriega: bass, clarinets; Ryan Ferreira: guitars; Matt Mitchell: piano, electronics; Ches Smith: drums, vibraphone, percussion, timpani.

Tim Berne’s third ECM album, You’ve Been Watching Me, features the saxophonist-composer again leading his latest band Snakeoil, now expanded to  a quintet with the arrival of guitarist Ryan Ferreira, whose signature sound adds greater texture and more options to the overall feel of the music.

The group’s 2013 release, Shadow Man, left Berne with some of the highest accolades of his long and convoluted career, there cannot be many more jazzmen with more ensembles to their name e.g, Paraphrase, Big Satan, Hard Cell, Caos Totale, etc , With Snakeoil he has reached a creative peak distilling his work to date with those other groups into a radical but coherent collection. Without doubt with  this new album he has greatly further improved and enhanced his work and reputation.

The music is typically “Berneian”, extremely long and complex riffs/lines snake over an energetic rhythm section in the most part. However there is a more space here than hitherto with elements of the music taking a more introspective feel , Across the album the compositions and playing move from complex jazz/math/rock into more relaxed and contemplative chamber pieces through to Middle-Eastern melodies and into visceral layers of sound. In places you might feel you are listening to Pawn Hearts era Van Der Graaf Generator, Sonic Youth in their SYR mode,  or early Dave Holland ECM outings, such is the detailed interplay between the musicians. Ferreira’s rock tones, a fascinating mix of varying styles , together with unforgiving blowing from the two horns, create a joyous dynamic building slowly to ecstatic climaxes. Relatively short for Berne compositions, which in the past have in some instances exceeded well over 30 minutes, these pieces are well structured and engage the listener with their many ideas, their development and execution.

Former Berne collaborator Dave Torn produced the album to his usual very high standards.

Berne has a rich history of challenging conventions, his music will not appeal to all, but with this album he comes very close to offering a selection which could, and should, grab the attention of the more conservative jazz listeners and get him the wider recognition he richly deserves.

Highly recommended.

Tracks from the the album will be featured on World of Jazz Podcast 126 which will be available on 30th April.


World of Jazz – 16th February 2012

A big focus this time around on the excellent Leeds/Scarborough band “The Wonderful Sound of the Cinema Organ” read all about them here – also a track from the excellent new album on ECM by Tim Berne.

Listen again here

1 Matthew Halsall The Move On the go
2 The Wonderful Sound of the Cinema Organ La Maladie Demo CD
3 Marty Erlich’s Rites Quartet You Can’t Beat The Slanted Cards Frog Leg Logic
4 Tim Berne Spectacle Snakeoil
5 The Wonderful Sound of the Cinema Organ You’ll Never Know Demo CD
6 Robert Glasper Experiment Consequence of Jealousy Black Radio
7 David Kikoski Growth Limits
8 The Wonderful Sound of the Cinema Organ All Will Be Lost Demo CD
9 Stanley Turrentine Mattie T Joyride

World of Jazz – 16th June 2011

Featured on this show are :

  • Herbie Hancock – Calypso – Mr Hands
  • The Impossible Gentlemen – You Won’t Be Around To See it – The Impossible Gentlemen
  • Malatu Estakte and the Heliocentrics – Malatu – Inspiration Information
  • Dave Douglas and The Tiny Bell Trio – The Gig – Constellations
  • Black, Berne and Cline – Impairment Posse – The Veil
  • Sidney Bechet – Buddy Bolden Stomp – Mosaic Select – Sidney Bechet
  • Nicky Skopeletis – One Eye Open – Ekstasis
  • Herbie Nicholls Trio – Nick at T’s – The Complete Blue Note Recordings
  • Phronesis – Eight Hours – Alive
  • Jaksyk, Fripp and Collins – The Other Man – A  Scarcity of Miracles
  • Sarah Vaughan – Lullaby of Birdland – Sarah Vaughan and Clifford Brown
To listen to the show click on the link below

World of Jazz – 9th June 2011

On this show more from that excellent new album from Tim Berne, Jim Black and Nels Cline – “The Veil” – together with associated music from the three band members, and other more ambient jazz music and a little side step to the wonderfully eclectic world of Dengue Fever.

  • Berne, Black and Cline – The Veil – The Veil – details here
  • Drew Gress – It was after the range that the angel came – Spin and Drift – details here
  • Kilimanjaro Dark Jazz Orchestra – The Palace of the Tiger Women (Kave Kon Remix) – website
  • Dengue Fever – Monsoon of Perfume – Venus on Earth – website
  • Nels Cline – McNeil Island/Pumpkin – New Monastery – website
  • Jim Black’s Alasnoaxis – Ant Work Song – Splay – website
  • The Impossible Gentlemen – Wallenda’s Last Stand – The Impossible Gentlemen – website
  • Miles Davis – When I Fall In Love – Steamin’ – website
  • Bugge Wesseltoft – Heim – Moving – MySpace

Click on the link below to listen

World of Jazz – June 2nd 2011

A relaxed and ambient feel to the show tonight with a mix of new and relatively new jazz from across the board……..

  1. Sidsel Endresen – Angel – Undertow
  2. Nels Cline, Tim Berne, Jim Black – Tiny Moments Part 2 -The Veil
  3. The Impossible Gentlemen – Sure Would Baby – The Impossible Gentlemen
  4. Nils Petter Molvaer – Platonic Years – Khmer
  5. Lars Danielsson – Shimmering – Libera Me
  6. The Kilimanjaro Dark Jazz Ensemble – Les Etoiles Mutantes – From the Stairwell
  7. Yusef Lateef – Juba Juba – The Blue Yusef Lateef
  8. Bobby Hutcherson – Juba Dance – Components
  9. Oliver Lake Steel Quartet – Stolen Moments – Dat Love