Jeff Berlin is a legend of the electric bass, considered by many to be the finest electric bass player in the world. A true master of the bass, Jeff Berlin has played with the likes of Bill Bruford, George Benson, Allan Holdsworth, and even toured with original members of Yes (Anderson, Wakeman, Bruford, Howe) on only three days’ notice. Much to the anticipation of his fans, Jeff is releasing a new jazz trio CD on his own MAJ Records label titled ‘High Standards’. Along with Berlin on electric bass, the CD also features Woody Herman alumni Richard Drexler on piano and upright bass, and famed drummer Danny Gottlieb (best known for his work with Pat Metheny). “It is a standard jazz piano trio led by a former rock bass player playing jazz tunes, and soloing nothing like bass players usually solo,” says Jeff. “Keith Jarrett is huge influence on me. I transcribed his solos and practiced them on bass. I wanted to try my hand at recording tunes that I have played for many years, which inspired me to record three guys in a room and let the session remain as they eventually turned out.”
Jeff Berlin’s resume reads like the who’s who of the higher echelon of music artists. Jeff Berlin was even asked to join Van Halen, an invitation that he actually turned down. “Eddie Van Halen was a fan of the band that I played in with Bill Bruford,” Berlin recalls. “We met and started to hang out and jam together. He was a sweet terrific guy. One day he saw me play a gig with my group and then asked me if I would like to join Van Halen. After this, we rehearsed at David Lee Roth’s house a couple of times. Ultimately, I said no to his gracious offer because when you join a band, you join the entirety of it, the life philosophy of its members and also the habits that they may be involved with. I felt that, in terms of activities and attitudes, I didn’t mesh with their vision of things. I didn’t wish to be mercenary and just take the job for money because it wouldn’t be fair to the band members. So, I just said no to the offer.”
Not only is Jeff Berlin a bass phenomenon in the jazz field, but rock players are constantly referring to him as one of their major influences. Jeff was voted Number 1 Jazz Bassist by the readers of Guitar Player Magazine. Carlos Santana called Jeff the “best bassist in the world”, while Rush’s Geddy Lee used the phrase “best bassist on the planet!” Members of Metallica call Jeff the number one bassist on Earth, and Slash considers him a “bass god”. Actor/bass player Gary Sinise, of “Forrest Gump” and “CSI NY” fame called Jeff’s playing “unreal!” Even the late George Carlin was knocked out with Jeff’s playing calling him a “great musician.” Jeff is known as a major innovator through his incisive playing through recordings and performances for the last thirty years. The late legend of bass, Jaco Pastorius regarded Jeff as a better soloist than he was, and Miles Davis’ bassist/producer Marcus Miller told people that he wanted to be the “Black Jeff Berlin”.
The founder of The Players School of Music in Clearwater, Florida Jeff started the school when his son got cancer at 5 years old. Jeff retired from playing to stay home with his son, and started The Players School of Music to make a living. (P.S. His son, now 17, was totally cured of the disease.) Jeff has also been at the front of music education for almost 30 years. His column in Guitar Player and Bass Player magazines were the most read columns due to their controversial content of music education. Jeff single handedly has re-vamped music education by dismissing popular methods of learning such as using electronic tuners, metronomes, handgrips, tablature, or any study method that does not include musical content
Jeff has released six highly acclaimed solo records, Champion, Pump It!, Taking Notes, In Harmony’s Way, Lumpy Jazz and Aneurythms. The Dean Guitar company builds a Jeff Berlin signature model electric bass, and Markbass amplifers built an amp that so impressed Jeff (who regularly turned down endorsement offers for years) that Jeff only plays through their amps in concert.
In support of his new CD release, Jeff will be touring with his band that has featured Danny Gottlieb, Othello Molineaux (the greatest steel drummer in the world), Randy Brecker and Richard Drexler. He also tours with BX3, a bass conglomeration that includes the great bass players Stuart Hamm and Billy Sheehan. “Because instrumental music isn’t popular anymore, not like it used to be, the amount of people interested in hearing players play simply to enjoy the music is less than it was in the past,” Jeff explains. “This is an era where you will never hear another Jimi Hendrix, because, in a great part, the music industry won’t allow it. This contempory music era is not interested in allowing a great player be hear or promoted. For this reason I jokingly refer about my shows that when I play, ‘The Audient will always be on his foot!’ and also regarding my CD, if Michael Jackson’s CD’s always went “Platinum”, my CD will surely go “Wood!”
Jeff Berlin’s playing continues to influence a new generation of bass players. His teaching continues to inspire and advance players wishing to know about the language of their art. Jeff Berlin is a Master. ‘High Standards’ is available on CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes, www.audiophileimports.com and other online retailers.