jazz supergroup SUN OF GOLDFINGER
(TIM BERNE + DAVID TORN + CHES SMITH)
with special guests WHITE HOLE
(Erik Cirelli + David Bernabo + Patrick Breiner + PJ Roduta)
tickets at Juke Records (Bloomfield), Caliban Books (Oakland), Jerry's Records (Sq Hill), Dave's Music Mine (S Side) and online at Brown Paper Tickets
TIM BERNE: alto saxophone
DAVID TORN: guitar and electronics
CHES SMITH: percussion and electronics
SUN OF GOLDFINGER
Music sample: https://soundcloud.com/jayapala/sunofgoldfinger-live-congratulationstoyou
Saxophonist Tim Berne, drummer Ches Smith and guitarist David Torn push far beyond jazz’s known boundaries in Sun of Goldfinger. The mercurial trio explores the edges of the genre, infusing it with perspectives ranging from the minimalist to the cinematic to the metallic. The improvisation-based group effortlessly, seamlessly shifts from atmospheres into shattering mayhem to thrilling effect.
All three musicians are renowned bandleaders in their own right, with current solo recordings on the prestigious ECM label. Berne has forged a singular path across dozens of expansive, diverse albums featuring intricately-detailed, harmony-driven works. Torn’s influence as a guitarist, composer and music technologist is epic. With sounds ranging from the searing and soaring to liquid loops to full-on shredding, he’s reinvented conventional definitions of guitar. Smith has established himself as one of the world’s premier percussionists, combining acoustic invention with electronics to both propel and extend his myriad musical surroundings.
Together, these leaders and friends combine as a democratic unit, determined to take audiences on a singular journey through provocative sonic territory known and unknown. This is the future of jazz. This is Sun of Goldfinger.
Ottawa Citizen live review by Peter Hum
Sun of Goldfinger - 2018 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival
NAC Fourth Stage June 22, 8 p.m.
Friday night’s concert by the all-star free-jazz trio Sun of Goldfinger could have come with a warning sign — Caution: uncompromising and at times ferocious sonic explorers at work.
Guitarist David Torn, alto saxophonist Tim Berne and drummer Ches Smith played three extended collective improvisations during their 75-minute set, ebbing and flowing but more often than not choosing to keep the tension, density and intensity high.
Theirs was a concert that smashed together electronic sounds, principally from Torn’s panoply of electronic accessories that allowed him to emit seemingly unending sonic washes, and more acoustic ingredients, including Berne’s frequently raspy horn and Smith’s drum kit augmented by a single timpani drum. Smith also bent over at times to trigger electronic percussion that added another aspect into the heady, heavily layered mix.
The concert stressed the notion of the journey as the destination, with extremely patient and intentional playing from all the musicians as they chose their contributions and shaped music that evolved before the listeners’s ears. The first improvisation lasted 40 minutes, moving from atmospheric to rugged to audacious and searing before it not so much ended as came to a final point of rest.
The second improvisation’s introduction was all the more striking because it was, in context, unconventionally conventional. Torn, who had previously emphasized his abilities as a sonic shaman who conjured the expansive backdrop for the music, played a succession of simple chords that almost evoked a folk-song feel. That feeling was not to last, and eventually that piece was dominated by Smith. As experimental, gestural and concerned with colour and punctuation as his playing had been earlier, he transitioned to big-beat grooving with its roots in Afro-Cuban drumming.
In the third piece, Smith again seemed like the group’s MVP, with his alternation of rolls on timpani, tom tom and drum machine seeming like the spine of the improvisation.
Berne, the most celebrated of the free jazzers on stage, kept his announcing to an absolute minimum. There was no encore. There was no effort to connect with listeners through anything other than pure music. Indeed, listeners had to surrender to the imaginative and at times alien sounds coming from the stage rather than be spoon-fed musical entertainment. But those who could join the musicians on their set-long trust dive were well-rewarded with a mind-opening experience.
London Jazz News live review by Geoff Winston
Sun of Goldfinger (Tim Berne, David Torn, Ches Smith)
(Vortex, 22 January 2017, night 1 of a two night residency)
This was one of those occasions when watching a performance a smile arrives, unannounced, from somewhere out there because the music doesn't just live up to its promise, you realise it has gone somewhere way beyond it. It was particularly gratifying, having previewed the Sun of Goldfinger residency at the Vortex, to find that the New York-based trio of David Torn, Tim Berne and Ches Smith, steeped in the ethics of sonic non-conformity and that city's rich jazz heritage, delivered a proposition that charted a path combining a crushing intensity with touches of neatly clipped, jazz-rooted fluency.
Amongst points of reference to help place the weave of their spell were the best of Hendrix's jams in spaces no larger than the Vortex. There were echoes of Buddy Miles' ultra-funk bursting through in Smith's hard-driven percussion laced with electronic embellishment (non-decorative); Torn going where Hendrix might have wished to find himself, taking up residence in a parallel universe of stormy squalls, shredded gusts and raw, yet lucid, tangential guitar work, in a vein similar to Wadada Leo Smith's setting out markers in post-Miles territory; and Berne, taking on the mantle of the straight-playing alto saxophonist, no frills, delivering well outside the comfort zone with phrasing that asked questions with every breath.
Zappa's frenzied deconstructions and Pink Floyd at their early psychedelic best were also brought to mind, as was Lou Reed's uncompromising Metal Machine Music.
But the reality was that Sun of Goldfinger were right there in the present, with their own distinctive voices articulating both hope and discomfort in troubled times. Theirs is dangerous music, at times angry music, at others blissed -out, illuminating music with its thunderous rumblings and Ornette-inspired figures - delivering not so much a wash of sound, more a tidal wave. What started in one of their pieces in the second set with an innocent jazz melody was swiftly subverted by dense, rushes of sound that bubbled and brewed and led to spells of tight duetting and stretches of close rhythmic interaction carried along with an irresistible momentum.