By Dave Pehling

BERKELEY (CBS SF) — Prolific guitarist David Torn brings his virtuoso trio Sun of Goldfinger featuring experimental saxophonist Tim Berne and volcanic drummer Ches Smith to the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley Tuesday night.

Born in Amityville, New York, Torn first started to make his name as a member of Ithaca jazz-rock group the Zobo Funn Band before relocating to New York City to play becoming a member of the more avant-garde Everyman Band. Filled by veterans of Lou Reed’s band Marty Fogel on saxophone, Bruce Yaw on bass and Michael Suchorsky on drums, the group gave Torn a platform to develop his unique sound that mixed heavily processed, atmospheric textures with jagged, howling solos.

The band signed to German jazz label ECM and recorded two albums with Torn getting his own solo deal that would find the guitarist producing several standout experimental fusion efforts with such notable collaborators as trumpet player Mark Isham and King Crimson rhythm section Tony Levin and Bill Bruford (who played on the landmark 1987 album Cloud About Mercury). Torn would work with a number of labels on his own albums and band projects with high-powered musicians like Zappa/Missing Persons drummer Terry Bozzio and Japan bassist Mick Karn (for the noisy Polytown album in 1994).

Torn would also become a busy session musician, contributing his distinctive guitar to albums by David Sylvain, k.d. lang, Me’Shell NdegéOcello, Madonna and an extended stint working with David Bowie in addition to extensive soundtrack recordings with Isham, Howard Shore and Carter Burwell. For his first new ECM effort since his acclaimed solo guitar record Only Sky in 2015, Torn has finally produced a studio album with ongoing experimental trio Sun of Goldfinger.

Teaming Torn with NYC downtown bandleader and saxophonist Tim Berne — a contemporary of John Zorn who has released dozens of albums with a dizzying array of groups — and celebrated jazz/rock drummer Ches Smith (Marc Ribot, Secret Chiefs 3, Zorn, Xiu Xiu and Berne’s own Snakeoil), Sun of Goldfinger has been performing live since 2012. the trio’s new album features two extended, 20+ minute sonic journeys created out of spontaneous group improvisation with a third tune (“Spartan, Before It Hit”) finding the threesome augmented by additional guitars, keyboards and a string quartet. Adventurous jazz fans should expect similarly epic excursions when Sun of Goldfinger deliver their alternately meditative and explosive music at the Freight & Salvage Tuesday night.

Sun of Goldfinger with David Torn, Tim Berne and Ches Smith
Tuesday, March 12, 8 p.m. $24-$28
Freight & Salvage