Meet Reviewer Damian Erskine ~
“High Standards” (www.jeffberlinmusic.com)
Iconic 4-string virtuoso Jeff Berlin has released an ambitious album of standards in a trio setting. Accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Richard Drexler on both bass and piano and Danny Gottlieb on drums, Jeff definitely takes center stage and gives us his trademark chorus-saturated tone and dextrous horn-like solos. The playing throughout is phenomenal. I must say that the tone of Jeff’s bass, while trademark and distinct, left me missing the warmth and esthetic depth of the upright bass. This music kind of begs to be played in an acoustic setting, or more heavily interpreted when done with an electric.
That minor gripe aside, Jeff’s walking, melodic phrasing and solo ideas are a cut above and the trio is smoking. I especially enjoyed the tracks which found Richard Drexler covering the low end on his upright bass (Jeff’s tone made more sense to my ears with that deep bottom supporting it).
This may be more of a bass players album, although the group interplay is wonderful and all are featured nicely simply by virtue of Jeff’s more horn-like tone. The tone works wonders during the solo sections and we could all do well to study his approach and transcribe Jeff’s work here but, as a replacement for the more traditional voice of the upright with this music, I’m still longing for the low end just a bit.