Ches Smith, David Torn, Tim Berne photo by Robert Lewis/ECM Records.
Friday, March 15, 7pm & 9:30pm
5000 Rainier Ave S
Sun of Goldfinger is the newest project of three heavy hitters colliding: David Torn (electric guitar), Tim Berne (alto saxophone), and Ches Smith (drums). This March, the New York trio makes their Northwest premier of sonic explorations from their debut, self-titled ECM release, an epic three track recording heavily comprised of improvisation, soaring high sax lines, and atmospheric soundscapes swelling with Torn and Smith’s looping and distorting electronics.
Sun of Goldfinger first came together in 2010, when Berne invited Torn to join him and a young drummer for a gig in Brooklyn. “It was intriguing from the start,” Torn recalls.
“I’ve had a deep musical relationship with Tim since the ‘90s and playing live with him is always special—we push each other into new territory. And that drummer turned out to be Ches, and I thought he was really something, just burning,” says Torn. “I’ve never played anything that sounds or feels quite like this.”
Across a career as a guitarist, composer, improviser, producer, and soundscape artist, David Torn has worked with innovators in jazz (Jan Garbarek, The Bad Plus), film music (Ryuichi Sakamoto, Carter Burwell), and rock (David Bowie, Jeff Beck, David Sylvian). Torn has released two albums on the ECM label, the solo only sky and quartet disc prezens, in addition to producing records for Tim Berne and Michael Formanek. Guitar Player magazine declared Torn “one of music’s Top 50 guitarists, ever.”
Tim Berne has long been a pivotal figure in bringing together players from across the spectrum of new approaches to jazz and related music. As the New York Times put it: “Few musicians working in or around jazz over the last 30 years have developed an idiomatic signature more distinctive than Berne.” The composer, producer, instrumentalist, bandleader, and founder of Screwgun Records has recently received ample acclaim for both of his ECM album releases with his quartet Snakeoil, “Berne’s most impressively cohesive group yet” (All About Jazz).
An original member of Snakeoil, and now one third of Son of Goldfinger, Ches Smith is eloquent but straight-to-the-point. Smith’s playing has been the cornerstone to projects led by Terry Riley, Marc Ribot, John Tchicai, and the experimental rock group Xiu Xiu. As a leader, Smith recorded Hammered (2013) with Mary Halvorson, Tony Malaby, Tim Berne, and Andrea Parkins, and The Bell (2016) with veterans of the jazz vanguard Craig Taborn and Matt Maneri.
Torn, Berne, and Smith’s first recorded musical collaboration, Sun of Goldfinger, sees three intense 20-plus minute tracks, weaving vast sonic tapestries. The trio’s “Eye Meddle” and “Soften the Blow”—spontaneous group compositions—obscure the fact that only a trio is present. The album’s centrepiece is Torn’s composition “Spartan, Before It Hit,” a kaleidoscopic epic that showcases an extended ensemble that expands the trio into a band of ten.
Reflecting on Sun of Goldfinger, Torn says: “This isn’t jazz music or rock music. I really can’t put it into any genre classification—it’s just music made by people who care deeply about what we’re expressing and how we’re expressing it, however abstract it may feel on first listen.”
Tickets are $20 adults, $18 Earshot members and senior citizens, $10 students and military and are available at earshot.org.