Much can be said about Jeff Berlin, and it s all been said already.

The bass playe r of note all right, of many notes he heard praises from such four-string maestr os as Jaco Pastorius and Geddy Lee, to name but two, and his music often bridges their realms of jazz and rock. What is rarely mentioned, as strange as it may s eem, amongst all the tech talk is the humaneness of Jeff s style. Always an invent ive player, as opposed to simple vurtuoso, Berlin s last record, High Standards , swi ngs the bassist back to the classics penned by the likes of Miles and Dizzy and is arguably his more emotional album of all. Full circle, then? - With High Standards you got much closer to classic jazz than on your previous al bums. Did it feel like a homecoming, when you were recording it, or was it a cha llenge? This recording was very easy for me because my teen age and early twenties invol ved my playing and soloing on jazz standards after I quit playing the violin Most Jewish boys with a talent for music end up playing the violin! Since the early Seventies, I have been playing standards with many different people. When I reco rded High Standards , I had already been playing some of these tunes for years. I w anted to record music where my bass playing would really sound special, and the best thing at the time of the recording to accomplish this was to record standar d tunes. I think that these solos are some of the best I ever recorded. - How much on the CD is improvised or you charted out everything before the sess ions? Almost nothing that you hear on the CD is charted out. Danny Gottlieb, Richard D rexler and I have played together so much that we can instantly move into differ ent ideas of playing, but as a band. You can hear this on a lot of this recordin g. We would make eye contact and mouth instructions to each other while we recor ded. For example, Richard might mouth the words, Out of time , as he did on Solar . We didn t know that we were going to play like that until Richard gave us this instr uction at the very moment that the music was being recorded. - Many pieces on this record are mostly known as played on brass, not strings or piano. Was it one of the criteria you picked them by? Not because these tunes were played by brass instruments, but because these song s were melodic and had interesting chord changes on them. Lately, I ve been findin g all kinds of new things to play, which I guess is my reward for having practic ed so diligently for so many years. For this reasons, I wanted to record a CD th at actually might not have any precedence in music, which is a bass player leadi ng a piano jazz trio playing melodies and soloing as if the bass player was a sa xophonist. I got quite good at doing this on a bass guitar. - Having played with Tony Williams and Allan Holdsworth you said you didn t like t he trio format. But here you are, with Danny Gottlieb and Richard Drexler. What made you change your mind? Nothing, actually! I actually meant that at that time, I didn t wish to play in a guitar trio. On High Standards I m mostly playing with a piano trio. It would take s pecial guitarists to make me feel comfortable in a trio setting, someone like Jo hn Scofield or Pat Metheny. But a piano covers so much harmony that whatever I p lay will have some meaning because there are no gaps in the chord sounds. I love playing with guitar, but I really love playing with piano. Actually, playing on Nardis and Someday My Prince Will Come were guitar-type trios because I sort of pla yed guitar parts while Richard Drexler played the acoustic bass down low. Our tw o basses worked out beautifully together!

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