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Lumpy Jazz by Jeff Berlin

Jeff Berlin and his cohorts collaborate to generate an unassuming, nearly unplugged, collection of original selections. On his website, it says Jeff is considered by some to be the greatest bass soloist on the planet. You'll get a chance to see why that is stated.

Centered on Berlin's sensitivity as a bassist, the band takes you on a musical walk in the woods. You'll need time to listen, because this isn't a typical, groove-driven "Smooth Jazz" outing. It's "lumpy" jazz. Get it? Cute. Composition driven, the music patiently develops and evolves.

Here's a few highlights. On track 3, "Lien on Me," Richard Drexler combines chord progressions and subtle expression on piano, plus some funky tones on the keys with Jeff's fretless exploration. This song inspired the "walk in the woods" analogy. Danny Gottlieb, original time-keeper of the Pat Metheny Group, lives up to his reputation splendidly, keeping the rhythm with his renowned Zildjian cymbal chatter and cascading throughout.

These guys work very well together. You'll find yourself listening again and again as you discover new passages along the bridge of unmentionables (track 4, another standout). If you're looking for some great trio work from musicians whose collective creativity and versatility run the emotional gambit, from peaceful, to playful, to unshakingly melancholy, this one is definitely worth checking out.

I'm a huge fan of Toots Thielemans, so I'll admit, I skipped a few songs to hear the "Toot's Suite." What an amazing bonus. There's a reason why so few musicians are known for being exceptional with a harmonica. Lumpy Jazz breaks the modern-day mold of predictable, redundant, background music. Very often these days, new songs are written that sound remarkably like something you've heard before. More than once. Jazz is about creativity, spontaneous misadventure, and it's best when served with a few lumps.

This is a very nice recording, in its entirety. Listen to it on your day off. For serious jazz lovers only.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Jeff Berlin
  • CD Title: Lumpy Jazz
  • Genre: BeBop / Hard Bop
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: M.A.J.
  • Musicians: Jeff Berlin, Danny Gottlieb, Richard Drexler, Cameo: by Toots' Thielemans'
  • Rating: Four Stars
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