• Ches Smith & These Arches live at Jazzclub Unterfahrt, Munich

    4 May 2014, 21:32

    Tuesday, 29th of April 2014 – Ches Smith & These Arches, Tim Berne, Tony Malaby, Mary Halvorson, Ches Smith, Andrea Parkins

    Tim Berne doesn't take side-man jobs too often, and if he does, he probably requires enough space for his own aesthetics. He did get that with Ches Smith & These Arches, so much as Ches Smith's compositions often sounded as if they were Berne's. However, we should not let ourselves be tricked by stardom - and if we must, then at least we should acknowledge that this group is an all-star band. But we don't have to. This group is more about crafting interesting sound-scapes together as a group, propulsed with interesting, intricate rhythms. The two sax-players perfectly blended when creating such sound-scapes, with especially Malaby occasionally throwing in some extended technique playing (like over- or microtonal). The melodious duties were shared between the saxophonists and guitarist Mary Halvorson, while Halvorson together with Smith also was responsible for the rhythms. Andrea Parkins was mostly present when she was triggering some live electronics from her laptop; when she was on accordion her sounds mostly got lost in the mix.
    A day after the show I heard from a person who was working at the club that Berne and Malaby had some serious quarrels before the gig. If that was the case, then they were very professional in hiding their disagreements during the concert. Or were they even sublimating them and thus being driven to higher aesthetic achievement? I don't know any details, it's vain to speculate about what was going on between them. If it leads them to higher peaks, well, so be it. If it would lead to bring those musicians apart, this were a pity.