Jeff Berlin….?

Now I’m not into drama, and I certainly can’t stand people who use the internet as their little soap box to complain and preach from (regardless of the fact I’m doing it right now), but I just can’t stop thinking about Jeff Berlin. Recently, my good friend told me about when he used to live in Israel and he had Jeff, Danny Gottlieb, and T Lavitz fly out there to do a bunch of shows with him. I said, “wow dude, Jeff Berlin is an INSANE bass player. What was it like playing with him?”. And all he said was “he’s like an old jewish man”. We both laughed, but I didn’t really get it 100%. Either way it was funny to imagine. But the other day on Talkbass, a thread came up about Jeff Berlin. I knew there was always controversy surrounding Jeff because of his extremely outspoken opinions on music education, practicing with metronomes, and all this other stuff. But somebody posted a link to Jeff’s website and said, “just read this guys bio. This guy must be the cockiest man alive.” Here’s what it says:

“Jeff Berlin is a legend of the electric bass. Simply put, he is considered by many to be the finest electric bass player in the world. Noted for his fluid lyrical playing, he is also a pioneer of slap bass when he brought this percussive-style bass playing in 1979 to a new audience on the tune called 5G! Jeff also pioneered two handed tapping when he performed this style on the tune Motherlode from his 1985 release of his first solo album called “Champion”.

Jeff is known as a major innovator through his incisive playing through recordings and performances for the last thirty years. Jaco Pastorius regarded Jeff as a better soloist than he was. Geddy Lee referred to Jeff as the “greatest bass player on the planet”. Marcus Miller told people that he wanted to be the “Black Jeff Berlin”.

The founder of The Players School of Music in Clearwater, Florida, Jeff has also been at the front of music education for almost 30 years. His column in Guitar Player and Bass Player magazines were the most read columns due to their controversial content emphasizing music education over more popular learning concepts aimed at technique-type instruction.

His numerous recording credits include six highly acclaimed solo records, Champion, Pump It!, Taking Notes, In Harmony’s Way, Lumpy Jazz and Aneurythms. Jeff tours with his band that has features ex. Pat Metheny drummers Danny Gottlieb and Paul Wertico, steel drummer Othello Molineaux, trumpet player Randy Brecker and pianist/bassist Richard Drexler. He also toured with BX3, a bass conglomeration that includes the great bass players Stuart Hamm and Billy Sheehan. In 2009 Jeff toured with guitarist John Abercrombie and drummer Adam Nussbaum. Jeff also played in Asia in an explosive trio with drummer Dennis Chambers, and guitarist Scott Henderson.

Many have said that they have never heard anyone play with Jeff’s melodic fluidity. He is making new fans all the time, while his playing continues to influence a new generation of bass players. His teaching continues to inspire and advance players wishing to know about the language of their art. Jeff Berlin is a Master.”

Honestly, I had a huge smile on my face the whole time I was reading this thinking, this is hilarious! Jeff is hysterical! But as I read other people’s responses on TB it appeared he was VERY serious, and even wrote a letter in Bass Guitar Magazine to some kid who accused him of over-boasting where he quoted several famous musicians such as Jaco, Zawinul, Miles, and several others all saying stuff like “our band is the best!” or “I’m the best there is!” or something ridiculous like that. He then goes on to explain how as an artist, boasting about one’s own talents is extremely important and it’s the confidence in one’s playing that makes them great. He also claims we live in a society today where everyone’s feelings are so easily hurt that they have to blog about it or whatever. I laughed at the article, and I agree with Jeff on some level. But I feel like in today’s music world, there’s such a flood of musicians that the days of great players like him are really done. It’s going to be much harder for us to see another Herbie Hancock or Miles Davis or Jaco Pastorius. Don’t get me wrong, I think the talent is still out there somewhere, but between the fact that all music today is pretty redundant and everybody and their mother wants to be a famous musician, it’s just never going to be the same. I grew up believing that your talent alone will open doors, but after more than 10 years in the biz it’s evident that it’s really all about personalities and clicking with people rather than how great you are. I mean of course you need to be good at what you do, but if you’re an asshole about it (cough cough, Jeff Berlin), nobody’s going to want to work with you. Fortunately for Jeff, he made his career decades ago, and while I don’t know the man personally, he appears to have quite the positive following on facebook and is well respected both for his bass playing and his founding of The Players’ School in my home state of Florida. I can say I’ve always been a fan and I commend Jeff on his attempts to reestablish “music education” from the bullshit excuse it has become. Just, maybe tone it down a bit Jeff….

Here’s Jeff doin his thing!

Jeff Berlin-Greatest Bassist in the World

One Response to “Jeff Berlin….?”

  1. Bass Dude says:

    Right on!

    Berlin is a complete arrogant douche bag a-hole. If he was half as bad ass as he thought he was, he would have been in a band like Weather Report or Steps Ahead or Vital Information or some other band like that, instead, he hasn’t played with anyone but his own bands for 20 years. Ya think because no one want to play with a complete douche maybe? Probably.

    Thats what I think about Berlin. If he is playing his bass, great, he is worth listening too, but if he is just running his jive turkey mouth about stuff…stfu, berlin.

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