Saturday, April 13, 2013

Low Standards Jeff Berlin Random Act 2013

Low Standards...The irony is not the sound of this formidable trio but rather the deep color pallet and catalog from which they are pulling from. As far as living bassists are concerned there are Victor Wooton, Bill Laswell, Brian Bromberg, Gerald Veasley and perhaps a half dozen other killer players one can think of off the top of your head. The iconic Jaco Pastorius stated, Berlin was a better soloist than he was. Geddy Lee of Rush referred to Berlin as the "The greatest bass player on the planet." High praise indeed with each owning the talent to switch titles if they so desired.

The Berlin resume includes Billy Cobham, Allan Holdsworth, and Patti Austin just to drop a half dozen names or so. Low Standards is the Random Act recording debut with one of the hardest swinging drummers in Mike  Clark and pianist and acoustic bassist Richard Drexler. Jeff Berlin is so well thought of when the whole Van Hagar or Van Halen deal went up in smoke, Berlin turned down an offered to join the legendary rock group to keep doing what he does best and his own way. Gotta love that!

Jeff Berlin is a huge fan of Keith Jarrett, a pianist the editor of  All About Jazz said he would share a coffee with but not much more. Instead of some of doing a rehash of high octane yet somewhat eclectic standards, Berlin brought it down a notch and did a release of more organic work where the entire trio can stretch out and let it rip. There is a massive harmonic difference on Low Standards, Berlin chose these tunes so fans would know the melodic lines running through his head and this was simply not the same Jeff Berlin. This is Jeff Berlin doing a righteous riff on himself and it works so incredibly well!

Berlin takes on three classic Wayne Shorter numbers which is not an easy task when Shorter is considered by many as the greatest living composer in jazz today. The reharms done to "E.S.P" and "El Gaucho" are imaginative yet the tunes never wander off the beaten path of accessibility for the average listener. If by some chance some of the tunes are somewhat unfamiliar the virtuoso performance more than makes up for any unfamiliarity. Other gems from the vault include the Bill Evans tune "Very Early" and the Pat Metheny / Lyle Mays tune "James."

As technically gifted as he is artistically proficient, Low Stands clearly shows the virtuosity the rides in the low end spectrum.


Tracks: E.S.P; El Gaucho; Falling Grace; Fee Fi Fo Fum; Vashkar; Very Early; Whisper Not; James.

Personnel: Jeff Berlin: electric bass; Richard Drexler: piano and acoustic bass Mike Clark: drums.

A peak at Jeff Berlin from earlier this year via You Tube.