August 7th, 2015
Earshot Jazz presented Tim Berne’s Snakeoil at the Royal Room in May an the were great. Tim Berne’s third ECM album, You’ve Been Watching Me, sees the saxophonist-composer again leading his dynamic New York band Snakeoil, now a quintet with the arrival of guitarist Ryan Ferreira. Just as Berne has hit a new peak with his writing on You’ve Been Watching Me, his band has reached a heightened state of collective interaction, realizing the compositions to a tee. Snakeoil – with the leader on alto sax alongside pianist Matt Mitchell, clarinetist Oscar Noriega, percussionist Ches Smith, and Ferreira on electric and acoustic guitars – can still be bracingly kinetic. But there is new space in these compositions and more lyrical focus to the improvisations, leading to a dynamic, even cinematic experience.