Title - 'Low Standards' (Random Act Records)
Artist - Jeff Berlin
Make no bones about it: Jeff Berlin is a legend of the Electric Bass! Indeed, if you ask most bassists around the world, the consensus is that Berlin is actually considered by many to be THE finest Electric Bass virtuoso in the world!
Here on the follow-up to High Standards, Berlin's electric bass crushes on Richard Drexler's slammin' upright bass oh so sweetly, whilst drummer Mike Clark keeps the framework in tact perfectly. Oh, and for the record, Drexler is also an amazing pianist, for he plays the acoustic piano on most all these tunes, switching back and forth from the upright.
The breezy bounce of 'ESP' kicks this album off in fine style, and immediately showcases what Berlin is all about. The slower 'El Gaucho' may sound the same as the former song, but after two or three listens the distinctive differences are clear. And that is exactly what this album needs to the untrained ear: several listens to truly appreciate such a work of art (no deliberate pun to the cover art intended!).
Moving on and we next encounter 'Falling Grace,' which bleeds almost seamlessly into the paced giant-killing rhythms of 'Fee Fi fo Fum' (sorry!). The upbeat, jazz influenced 'Vashkar' is next, and is backed by the longest track on the album, 'Very Early' (6:24).
The delightful hips way of 'Whisper Not' follows, and the album is then brought to a close with the faster-paced 'James.' A cut that allows Berlin to go crazy on his strings, he never once falters in providing a track of pure brilliance. In closing, this is a consummate jazz album that all lovers of music and the form therein will be delighted to hear. Indeed, the standards showcased on this project allow Berlin to give a deft, yet ultimate nod to the Jazz masters: without ruffling any purist feathers.
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk