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«Palm Sweat: Marc Ducret Plays the Music of Tim Berne»

In recent years the music of American sax player Tim Berne attracted innovative guitarists. Gregg Belisle-chi, on acoustic guitar, performed Berne’s composition on Koi: Performing the music of Tim Berne (Screwgun, 2021), and later became a frequent collaborator with Berne (check Zone 1, Screwgun, 2022). Canadian guitarist Gordon Grdiina released last year Oddly Enough – The Music of Tim Berne (AttaBoyGirl, 2022), and arranged it to acoustic, classic, midi and electric guitars, oud and dobro.

But it is the French master guitarist Marc Ducret who has the most intimate knowledge of Berne’s music. Ducret played in Berne’s bands since the early nineties – Caos Totale, Bloodcount, Science Friction, Big Satan and Snakeoil. He knows Berne’s intricate compositional attitude and sees his compositions as the whole global of shape and form, the way Berne encourages individual interpretation of his compositions as well as the sly humor of Berne, often reflected in his compositions. He already played a few of Berne’s compositions as solo pieces on Berne’s The Sevens (New world, 2002).

Palm Sweat: Marc Ducret Plays the Music of Tim Berne was conceived in 2021, using Berne’s composition that both Berne and Ducret had played together, or just Berne’s sketch or short musical ideas. Ducret recorded at his home and in a nearby studio, playing on different acoustic and electric guitars, basses, daxophone, percussion, voice and objects. Later, and on two pieces, he added contributions by trumpeter, flutist Sylvaine Hélary, trombonist Christiane Bopp and his son, cellist Bruno Ducret.

Ducret plays Berne’s music in his own very personal way, choosing irreverent instrumentations and colors for each piece, but creating a rich musical landscape in which the listener could wander. He twists the opening, mash-up «Curls / Palm Sweat / Mirth of the Cool» from the vague memory of Julius Hemphill’s seminal Dogon A.D. (Arista, 1977) into Sunn O)))-tinged, metal meets noise drone and to a playful and dramatic guitar and percussion ritual. «Rolled Oats 2 & 1» are solo acoustic guitar pieces, and both suggest Berne’s poetic ideas. «Shiteless 1» samples the distorted voice of Berne and orchestrates a highly imaginative rhythmic choir of guitars, feedback effects and manipulated voices, while «Shiteless 2» is a most beautiful and emotional duet with trombonist Bopp. The solo electric guitar on «The Iceman» is the most straight-ahead performance of Berne’s composition, but, obviously, with all Berne’s quirky turns and twists. «Stutter Step» returns to the feedback effects-laden drone territories, but now the dramatic, sustained metallic electric guitar lines and later the acoustic guitars orchestrate Berne’s complex composition as an imaginative brass and reeds piece. Trumpeter Martinez and cellist Ducret join Marc Ducret, on acoustic guitar, for the mysterious and contemplative «Static» and immediately establish arresting and poetic dynamics. Ducret concludes this masterful and beautiful homage with the brief «About This Recording» on the acoustic guitar.

Eyal Hareuveni 

Marc Ducret (el. and ac. 12 and 6 string g, fretless, soprano acoustic and electric, 4 and 6 string b, prep. g, daxophone, perc, daf, chains, suitcase, v, handclaps), Fabrice Martinez (tp, piccolo tp, flh, tuba), Sylvaine Hélary (alto fl), Christiane Bopp (tb), Bruno Ducret (c, v, handclaps); Sarah Lee (video)

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