|It's one of the ironies of life that the more you learn during your time on this planet, the more you realize how little you really know. Perhaps that is the ultimate wisdom... OLD & UNWISE is two veterans of improvised music – American saxophonist Tim Berne and French double-bassist Bruno Chevillon – facing the known and the unknowns, tête-à-tête; it's a record of one afternoon in the studio, in Portugal – the pair improvising freely and totally, exploring sound, spinning tales in the moment. There was nothing, then there was music, for keeps. One minute that music can seem as if the listener stumbled through the Amazon jungle to find two shamans keening in some ritual, charming snakes, casting a spell; other tracks can sound like off-kilter seductions, as if they were noir love songs from the back alley of another world. There are melodies from the bass, rhythms from the alto sax, and vice-versa; there is humor, there is beauty – it rumbles, it sings, it's intoxicating. Such duets demand rare intimacy, the one-on-one communication forcing each player to open up, unable to rely on group interplay. The format has always appealed to Berne, with his past duo encounters including discs with guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Marilyn Crispell, cellist Hank Roberts and bassist Michael Formanek. Previously, Berne and Chevillon developed chemistry together in bands led by guitarist Marc Ducret and violinist Dominique Pifarély, although the two originally met long before – in 1983, in Avignon, when Chevillon was a photographer and Berne was on his first tour of Europe. "I love Bruno's playing – it's this great combination of the organic and the virtuosic. His arco playing is insanely good. A lot of people know him from playing with Louis Sclavis for so long, but Bruno was actually a late-starter, another thing we have in common." Chevillon and Berne went into the studio in Lisbon after three live gigs, improvising every note on the spot in the most fluid manner, as the saxophonist recalls: "We went in at 2:30, and by 5:00, I was out body-surfing." The musical result is marked by distilled concision. Berne explains: "An audience makes things more visceral, the feedback stoking your ego, getting the adrenaline going. But the studio vibe with Bruno was concentrated. We would hit on a central idea, milk it and then out, no circling around." The end product was mastered by technical whiz David Torn and packaged with artwork by Steve Byram, two longtime Berne confreres. But the music is presented exactly as it happened on the day, in order with no edits. "We set up in a big, high-ceilinged room, natural with no headphones, and we just played," Berne says. "It's very old-school. In a good way."