Next week, 9th to 11th October, Tim Berne and Matt Mitchell will be working with two groups of jazz students at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire leading up to a concert on the Thursday in the Conservatoire’s Eastside Jazz Club involving performances by both student groups and by the Tim Berne Matt Mitchell Førage duo (sax and piano). Details of the evening’s programme are below.
The residency with Tim and Matt follows a well-established pattern at the Conservatoire that has worked extremely well with a number of visiting artists, notably Dave Holland, Mark Turner and Jeff Ballard. The artists send copies of selected material of their own in advance so that the students can prepare. They then run a series of sessions preparing the groups for the public performance and on the concert night the artists will sometimes join the student groups on one or two of the numbers. I hear that this will likely be the case with Tim and Matt. And on this occasion we will get a full duo set with just Tim and Matt.
Tim and Matt’s collaboration began with Matt Mitchell joining Tim’s Snakeoil band after Tim had heard Matt in his home city of Philadelphia, and Matt rapidly became a key member of the group with an instinctive grasp of Tim’s music. This grasp was even more apparent on the solo piano album Førage that Matt recorded on the Screwgun label; on this he played seven of Tim’s tunes and captures the intricate nature of those tunes, and brings new insights and angles to them. Then in 2017 Tim and Matt recorded a duo album Angel Dusk. Peter Magarsak, writing in the Chicago Reader, comments that ‘exacting unison passages appear in all eight pieces, but everywhere else the give-and-take between the two men is constant—they created the music together, and Mitchell seems to anticipate every shift in direction or tone that Berne makes.
There is a possibility that both Tim and Matt will also play solo as well as in duo format, but time constraints may not permit this.
I find it truly interesting and encouraging that the Jazz Course at Birmingham Conservatoire is engaging with two of the most exciting players on the more experimental end of the jazz spectrum. In a sense Tim Berne’s is becoming increasingly accepted and part of the mainstream of jazz; he has recorded on the ECM label and plays regularly in festivals round Europe. We were delighted to have his Snakeoil band at Cheltenham Jazz Festival in 2016 and that concert was recorded for the Jazz on 3 programme on BBC Radio 3. This is not to suggest that Tim has in any way compromised in his music; it remains just as complex, innovative and challenging as ever, and always has a great exciting groove.
The concert takes place in the Eastside Jazz Club on Thursday 11th October and the running order is: 6.30 Ensemble Set 1 7.45 Ensemble Set 2 9.00 Tim Berne and Matt Mitchell
You can buy tickets in advance here; tickets will also be available on the door, £12 in advance £13 on the door. Concessions are available.
Tim and Matt will also be at the Vortex Jazz Club on 12th and 13th October