|Karl Berger’s playing in the mid-70’s draws the conclusion that his was one of the more original voices at a time when jazz was begging for something fresh. It’s nothing peculiar or flashy. His phrasing is certainly of that school that grew tired of the old, predictable methods that could be developed not much further than the three or four chords that were the derivative structure of most compositions of the period. For guidance it was through the alchemy and associated by-products of Monk and Ornette that he would find his North Star. Karl was one of the many who would seek to advance than to lie dormant in a creative sleep, a trait most evident in his composing.
All Kinds of Time documents one of the first of many occasions that Berger would meet with bassist Dave Holland. The date achieves a calming sentimentality though the two remain continuously explorative. Neither musician gets sucked into showcasing; rather the music is a product of respect for each other’s dependability under the demands of the restraints that are the nature of a duo setting.
Thanks are to this session for featuring such an abundant dose of Berger’s piano. He is also featured on vibraphone (his main instrument) and the balafon (think marimba sans resonators). The semblance between his vibes and piano playing is remarkable. And both instruments are played with equal finesse. Dave Holland shows the acumen that would soon determine the boundaries of his competence as a leader.
"Simplicity" is an exhibition that could have come straight from the Andrew Hill songbook. Berger weaves improvised piano lines in and out of a loose tempo. Holland idles independently in neutral before his solo, where he storms the gate with gale force, leaving Berger behind to support with awkward but fitting comps. "Perfect Love" is a minor-keyed ballad that begins with Holland bowing the melody alongside Berger. The repetitious theme allows for safe solo opportunities. Holland’s is brief but imaginative and Berger reenters on vibes. The transition is winsome. Standout segments include Holland’s sustenance throughout "Fragments" and a piano-vibe overdub that defines "The Beginning". The last cut is a sixteen minute medley that strives to bring the listener’s attention to both their melodic resourcefulness and their collective skill. There are many serene moments that come off as exercises in purity.
All Kinds of Time is the second in a series of limited edition reissues that highlights producer/visionary Bill Smith’s tenure at Sackville Records: from 1974 to 1980. The recordings are now being printed for the first time on CD. Subsequent to Don Pullen’s Solo Piano Record and soon to be followed by a solo George Lewis album, this CD is welcome in a series that sets out to prove that the 70’s had something for everybody, far away from the all-too-sober fabrics of fusion.