Jeff Berlin… Anytime I mention his name, there seems to be a ripple in the force and the wave of Berlin supporters or antagonists come to the surface and spout-off their opinions. No matter where you stand regarding Jeff’s musical philosophy, no one can reasonably deny the simple fact that Jeff seriously knows his craft and is one of the major players of our time.
Jeff Berlin: Low Standards is a perfect example of a solid Jazz CD with Jeff’s electric bass in the forefront and a precise, no nonsense pair of musicians, Richard Drexler on Piano & Acoustic Bass and Mike Clark on Drums, rounding up the trio. The music is precise and tight and will certainly appeal to those that grasp this caliber of high level playing. The trio performs compositions by Wayne Shorter, Steve Swallow, Carla Bley, Bill Evans, Benny Gloson, Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays.
Lets look at a couple of the tunes…
“E.S.P.” is a breakneck tempo piece that sets the bar high from the start. There is no holding back here as the lead electric bass runs with the melody with deliberate but intricate ease, while the walking acoustic bass keeps the grove pumping. Mid-tune, the tables turn and Jeff picks up the walking part and Richard cuts loose on piano. Of course the drums keep a steady, percussive foundation for these guys to frolic on.
“Falling Grace” takes a more harmonic tack and flows with smooth beauty. The trio interacts in an interlacing fashion, kind of like a “braid” of musicality. The switch from acoustic bass to piano occurs seamlessly and the piece runs it’s course with steady, concise drumming throughout.
I could go on, but I think you grasp the generalities here. Jeff is a top-notch soloist and demonstrates this cut-after-cut. Similarly, as he takes over the “groove” foundation of each tune, he does so flawlessly. Richard and Mike are superb at their parts in this musical collaboration.The music simply speaks for itself.
If you are a serious jazz fan and enjoy bass, then this CD is a must hear for you.