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Jeff Berlin’s Bass Solo on an Allan Holdsworth Composition – Water On The Brain Part II

lucaspickfordbio-1When I was a student at the Berklee College of Music waaay back in the day (when dinosaurs still roamed the earth ) it had only been a few years since Jaco Pastorius had died and there wasn’t yet the whole new generation of amazing post-Jaco bass players that exists now. There was no YouTube where you could simply click your mouse and hear thousands of fantastic young bassists from all over the planet. Jeff Berlin had always stood in Jaco’s shadow (as did most bass players save an exceptional few) but I had heard him when I was 14 years old playing with guitarist Allan Holdsworth.

Jeff was one of the very few guys at that time who really had formidable chops on the bass guitar. Jeff was a violin prodigy as a child but sort of rebelled and became a jazz/fusion bass player. Jeff is still around and now you CAN hear him on YouTube playing all kinds of cool stuff. Well this particular bass solo on the Allan Holdsworth composition called “Water On The Brain Part II” (don’t ask if there’s a Part I because there isn’t) from Allan’s mini-EP called “Road Games” absolutely blew me away when I first heard it. In fact, it STILL blows me away today! “Road Games” is out of print but you can still find copies for sale on EBAY.

Jeff Berlin Bass Solo on Water On The Brain Part II-pg1

Jeff Berlin Bass Solo on Water On The Brain Part II-pg1


Jeff Berlin Bass Solo on Water On The Brain Part II-pg2

Jeff Berlin Bass Solo on Water On The Brain Part II-pg2


Allan Holdsworth-Road Games CD Cover03 Holdsworth Water On The Brain Part Two – Audio File

Jeff’s solo begins at 1:03 into the song and goes until 2:12. It’s a short but incredibly technically demanding solo all played on Jeff’s mid 70’s Fender Precision Bass. Because much of this solo is played in the high-upper register of the 4-string bass, I could have notated it using Treble Clef but way back in 1989 when I actually did this transcription, I chose to notate the whole solo in Bass Clef. However to avoid the excessive use of ledger lines in Bass Clef I used the notation “8va” which means to play the notes one octave higher than where they’re written so pay close attention to where the “8va” signs are. If you have a 4-string bass, you might try learning this solo on it. It will really show you how to use the ENTIRE register of your bass, which I believe is really important no matter how many strings you have. Too many bass players are guilty of only being comfortable in one area of their instrument. I see so many young guys who play 5-string but almost never really utilize the low B string. Why not? Whatever bass you learn this solo on you’ll be a better improvisor for having done so, plus it will give your chops a serious workout. As always go slow, but your ultimate goal should always be to learn the solo so that you can play a long with the track up to speed. Have fun and good luck.

-Lucas Pickford

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