When young British jazz players at the cutting edge are asked about their influences, one name crops up time and time again: Tim Berne. Saxophonist, composer, not so much band leader as collaborator, Berne has been at the forefront of the alternative New York scene since the early ’90s, and while others from that scene might have mellowed a little or become almost mainstream, he has stuck to his avant-garde guns.
Another hugely influential band of the last decade has been the piano trio The Bad Plus, and their mix of complex jazz harmonies with rock influences and tongue-in-cheek mock prog-pomp has always struck a certain chord with Brits young and old who understand that things can by side-splittingly funny and deadly serious at the same time.
So Buffalo Collision can safely be called a supergroup, I guess, with Berne on saxophone, TBP’s Ethan Iverson on piano and Dave King on drums, and another key player from the downtown New York scene, Hank Roberts, on cello.
Former Birmingham jazz writer Martin Longley, now working in New York, had this to say about the band back in 2008: “The Buffalos veer from fragmented abstraction to near-funky Philly grooving, working on an engaging tension between these two traits, each constantly jostling for dominance. Iverson forms a riff, and Berne builds on it, setting King off on a therapeutic detonation run. Roberts remains the anchoring centre, bowing binding ribbons to tangle in-between the other three’s perpetually shifting relationships.”
This quartet is at the CBSO Centre in Birmingham this evening, courtesy of Birmingham Jazz. Tickets are £13, you can get them on the door, and it all kicks off at 8pm.