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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'You've Been Watching Me' (ECM)
Artist - Tim Berne's Snakeoil

As I'm sure you well know by now, Tim Berne is an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Described by critic Thom Jurek (who I myself used to work with back in the day), as commanding "considerable power as a composer and a frighteningly deft ability as a soloist", Berne has composed and performed prolifically since the 1980s.

His mainstream success has been limited – Berne recorded two albums for Columbia Records – but he has released a significant body of work over the decades spanning dozens of critically acclaimed recordings.

Here on Snakeoil’s impressive third album, You’ve Been Watching Me, we get just seven (7) new tracks, but with a running time of well over an hour - although there are two (2) tracks that run at just 2:26 and 1:46, it has to be noted - it's the third track, 'Embraceable Me' that peaks the curiosity levels. An delightful, if not starry exchange involving members of the rhythm section, the track is, well, rather hypnotic.

Tim Berne, on Alto saxophone, brings with him to the recording studio the same bunch of guys one assumes he also tours with: Oscar Noriega: Bass and B-flat clarinets; Matt Mitchell: Piano and electronics; Ryan Ferreira: Electric and acoustic guitars; and Ches Smith: Drums, vibraphone, percussion, timpani.

And therein lies the chink in the armor that might "nudge" Snakeoil fans to one side having listened to it, for You've Been Watching Me is most definitely less rough housing, and more smooth and agreeable, shall we say, to previous band outings. Personally, I put that down to, although not in a bad way, please understand, to Mr. Ferreira, its newest member. His serrated electronic textures to the music are wonderful, most notably on the final cut of the album, the 13:22 'False Impressions.' It's just that the backbone, the edge of Snakeoil is not holding it together musically any more, which, again, is okay. For You've Been Watching Me is one incredible collection of tunes that will make anyone happy that they allowed in their ears/lives.

Tour dates:
Apr 21 - New York, NY at Jazz Standard - full band with Ryan
Apr 24 - Philadelphia, PA at The Barnes Foundation
Apr 25 - Baltimore, MD at An Die Musik Live!
Apr 26 – Washington DC at Bohemian Caverns
Apr 28 - Buffalo, NY at Hallwalls
Apr 29 - Toronto, ONT at The Music Gallery
May 3 – Berkeley, CA at Berkeley Arts
May 4 - Seattle, WA at The Royal Room - full band with Ryan
May 5 - Portland, OR at Jimmy Mak’s - full band with Ryan
May 6 – Santa Fe, NM at GIG Performance Space
May 7 - Albuquerque, NM at The Outpost
May 8 - St. Louis, MO at The New Music Circle
May 9 - Chicago, IL at The Constellation
May 10 – Detroit, MI at Trinosophes
May 11 - Minneapolis, MN at Icehouse
May 15 – New Haven, CT at Firehouse 12 (Tim in duo with Matt Mitchell)