Tim Berne – Sanctified Dreams

1987 – Columbia Records


I picked this gem up on a trip to Portland, ME this weekend. $8 well spent! I’ve already written about Berne’s other release on Columbia for Vinyl Me, Please in a list of the best avant-garde jazz albums to own, but thought this would be good to review as well. There are some classic Berne elements, like super interesting grooves and repeated phrases underneath solos and oddly pulsed melodies. Joey Baron, as usual, is amazing behind the kit. I love his use of cowbell here, he plays it exactly where it needs to be. He is always in the pocket, but then can change a little piece of the pattern to completely alter the mood. One of the arrangement choices that I really like about Berne is that he sometimes uses the saxophone as part of the background. Most of the time, historically, the sax is front and center, taking a melody or soloing. In many of his compositions, the sax joins in with the bass or cello backing soloists or melod-ists. There is a great dynamic range presented. There is also a nice mix of density and space. With such complex compositions, it is nice to hear the musicians take deviations into sustained notes and feels. At the end of side one, there is a beautiful spacy melody with an inconsistent march beat underneath that needs to be heard to believed (I’d say to be understood, but I don’t even get it after a few listens). That being said, I love it. Hank Roberts’ vocals on side two are a welcome treat. They bring a creepy atmosphere to the record that I haven’t heard on other Berne releases. As I’ve said before, any of Tim Berne’s albums are worth checking out. If you get a chance, see him live. His performance at the Newport Jazz Fest this year was amazing! It’s great to hear such a great artist consistently releasing wonderful material.