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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Jeff Berlin

High Standards

Review by Gary Hill

Let’s get this out right at the beginning, this really isn’t progressive rock. It’s pure jazz. That said, there are similarities between the two styles. The main reason I’m including it under prog, though, is that Jeff Berlin has been involved in a lot of progressive rock projects. So, it qualifies as being of interest to progressive rock fans – and that makes it fit to put under prog. So, overall, this is a cool disc. It’s got a very traditional jazz trio vibe. There’s not a lot of difference in terms of general motifs from song to song, but it never feels redundant or samey. It’s very entertaining jazz that has a lot of killer instrumental work. Of course, if you are familiar with Berlin’s work as a bassist you will expect some killer bass work. You won’t be disappointed. In addition to the links below you can get it at Berlin's CD Baby site - http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/JeffBerlin1.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Groovin' High

While the bass presence on this is both amazing and the most obvious element here, it’s not the only thing going on. There are plenty of other interesting bits and pieces to be found in the other two instruments’ displays. That bass, though – wow! Still, there is some great piano soloing, too.

Nardis
There is more of a fusion feel to this. The bass is still the prominent feature, but both of the other players make their presence known.
I Want to Be Happy
We get an almost country music flair to this cool jazz romp. It’s another fun one. Again we get some exceptional playing from all three members of the group. It moves into some more serious territory for a while. 
Body & Soul
Piano leads this off and solos unaccompanied for a while. The other instruments eventually join, but the piano is really the driving force behind the bulk of this cut.
Solar
A smoking hot cut, this is more traditional jazz. Once again, each member of the group finds plenty of opportunities to shine. 
Invitation
They don’t change the general format. Instead we get another great instrumental jazz number with an old school sensibility.
If I Were a Bell
This comes in quite playful and then moves out after a time to a smoking bass solo.  There’s also a great (accompanied) piano solo later in the number. 
Valses Nobles et Sentimentales no. IV
A short cut, this is seemingly more freeform than the rest here. It’s almost RIO in a lot of ways.
Someday My Prince Will Come

Coming in with rather RIO type elements, this grows out from there to a journey that’s closer to the rest of the music here. This is actually one of the most dynamic and diverse pieces on show, moving through a number of different changes and alterations.

 
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