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Tim Berne, Blue Collar Composer

Tim Berne says in high school he started collecting records like a "sports fan". Growing up in Syracuse, he developed an early appreciation for jazz and improvised music, but he didn’t begin playing saxophone until he was in his early 20’s. The lack of formal training helps explain Berne’s DIY approach, which includes starting his own record label Screwgun and booking his own performances. But even after a long and storied mentorship with revered saxophonist Julius Hemphill, and a rise to establishment figure in the improvised music community, Berne has never given up his restless, self-motivated dedication to artistic discovery.

In this edition of Expandable Sound, follow Tim Berne’s journey from omnivorous music fan to seasoned composer and saxophonist, with stops in the Pacific Ocean, Paris, a cemetery basement, and Junior’s Diner.

In this episode, you will hear:
Tim Berne, “Velcho Man”, Sanctified Dreams, 1987
Julius Hemphill, “Hotend”, Blue Boye, 1977
Tim Berne and Snakeoil, “Scanners”, Snakeoil, 2012
Nels Cline, Tim Berne, Jim Black, “Tiny Moments pt. II”, The Veil, 2011
Tim Berne, “Huevos”, Science Friction, 2002



Expandable Sound


Musical portraits exploring how knowledge is created and shared in jazz and improvised music. Including Bill Frisell, Pheeroan akLaff, Amina Claudine Myers, and more. 

Experimental Composers


Artists who explore the edges of genre and technique.