Broken Shadows is a quartet of kindred spirits communing over shared loves and common inspirations, radiating not only homage but aspiration – the drive to make music with deep, age-old roots reach into the present moment, very much alive and moving through our air now. Tim Berne, Chris Speed, Reid Anderson and Dave King – four musicians hailing from the urban northern half of America – have banded together to reinterpret the timeless sounds conjured by great men from the rural South and heartland of the country: Ornette Coleman, Julius Hemphill, Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden. These iconic figures created an ever-resonant avant-garde out of the folk-art influences of their early surroundings. Rolling and tumbling, shaking and stomping – this canon encompasses the hard blues and deep lament, keening celebration and hollering protest. Wound through the DNA of such avant-jazz numbers as “Humpty Dumpty,” “Dogon A.D.,” “Walls-Bridges” and “Song for Ché” are the age-old sounds of back-alley bars and carnival midways, funeral processions and holiday parades, the rave-ups of Saturday night shading into the hymns of Sunday morning.
This Broken Shadows album, recorded live in an intimate club setting in 2019, captures the band up close and personal, the front-row sound conveying a vibe very much in keeping with the tunes; you can hear cocktail glasses knocked back one after another, as a joyous, vocal crowd digs the music. The way saxophonists Berne and Speed perform with the bass-and-drum team of Anderson and King has a rocking, roughhewn harmonic convergence wholly in sync with the source material, even as the band’s improvisations possess a searching, burning modernism of their own.
The players of Broken Shadows share long personal histories as friends and collaborators. Among their various associations, Speed played in Berne’s vintage Bloodcount band in the 1990s and they each team with King in multiple groups, while Anderson and King are the co-leaders of longstanding hit trio The Bad Plus. Admirers of Berne’s vast catalog will thrill to the melodic cry of his alto in “Song for Ché,” just as those who relish the myriad subtleties in Speed’s tenor tone will appreciate hearing him trace serpentine lines around Berne in “Broken Shadows.” Even ardent Bad Plus fans may marvel at the gutbucket grooves Anderson and King put down in “Body” and “Dogon A.D.” This foursome was attuned to something special on this night, with the breath and beat of the music undeniably emotive and brimming with life; it’s the sound of people getting down and dirty in a room together, never something to take for granted. — Bradley Bambarger
released June 5, 2020
CHRIS SPEED TENOR
DAVE KING DRUMS
REID ANDERSON BASS
TIM BERNE ALTO
All Songs by Ornette Coleman Phrase Text (ASCAP) except for Body and Dogon A.D. by Julius Hemphill Subito Music Publishing (ASCAP),
Song for Ché by Charlie Haden Liberation Music (BMI)
Walls/Bridges by Dewey Redman DewRed Music (ASCAP)
Recorded LIVE at Korzo by Simon Jermyn(Thanks Simon)
Mastered By Huntley Miller(Thanks Huntley)
Photo:Pedro Moreno(Thanks Pedro)
Cover Art:Mister Rubato
THANKS TO ORNETTE,JULIUS,CHARLIE AND DEWEY FOR THE PROFOUND INSPIRATION