265

Bob Berg: Another Standard

Robert Spencer By

Sign in to view read count
"In order for a tune to become a standard," says Karen Bennett in her liner notes, "it has to have enough appeal and substance to keep both musician and listener engaged on many levels for many years." Late Miles alumnus Bob Berg's Another Standard asserts that status for a lineup of familiar but not front-line tunes: "You and the Night and the Music," "Summer Wind," the Beatles' almost unrecognizable "Michelle," "Just in Time," "My Man's Gone Now" from Porgy and Bess, "All the Way," "It Was a Very Good Year," "I Could Write a Book," and his own "No Trouble."

Most of this is a "standard" quartet date, featuring Berg on tenor and soprano, David Kikoski on piano, Ed Howard on bass, and Gary Novak on drums. Randy Brecker chimes in with trumpet and flugelhorn on the Gershwin tune and "I Could Write a Book," and Berg enlists Mike Stern's guitar on his own track.

Berg is a devout and thoroughgoing Coltraneian. He attacks "You and the Night and the Music" as if it's "Giant Steps," adding a few Impulse!-era phrase resolutions involving tinges of keening and honking; on "Summer Wind" he appends little commenting tags to his completed phrases, just like the man who recorded all those dates for Prestige. "Michelle" and "Just in Time" are more individual for the most part, but both eventually arrive in Sheets-of-Soundville before it's through. The liner notes explicitly compare his soprano interplay with Kikoski on "It Was a Very Good Year" to Coltrane and Tyner on "My Favorite Things," but the xerox machine was evidently set to copy light. A good bit of this — try "All the Way"— sounds like the lost seventeenth disc from Trane's mammoth Prestige box set. As far as I know, that box is still in print.

"My Man's Gone Now" sounds like the lost movement of A Love Supreme, which is certainly an original take on Porgy and Bess. Brecker sounds here a good bit like Wynton Marsalis playing the Coltrane masterpiece, although the Gershwin strains come through strongly in his impassioned solo. The original, "No Trouble," betrays a more Ornetteish flavor than Berg shows otherwise; it could be an outtake from Coltrane's venture into Ornette Land with Don Cherry on The Avant-Garde.

Bob Berg is clearly a virtuoso instrumentalist. When Miles Davis hired him, he knew what he was doing (maybe all the way down to the Coltrane inflections.) Berg's command is total and flawless. His mates, Kikoski in particular, are fine, although the rhythm section sounds a little dulled, what with thirty years of rock and disco between us and Coltrane's quartet with Elvin Jones. One may hope that in his next outing he leaves aside his homage to Coltrane and lets listeners hear a little more of his own voice. After all, in an improviser's art, that's what it's all about.


Shop

More Articles

Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Dreamsville CD/LP/Track Review Dreamsville
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 26, 2017
Read April CD/LP/Track Review April
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Small World CD/LP/Track Review Small World
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 26, 2017
Read High Time CD/LP/Track Review High Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Rags And Roots CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 2, 2017
Read "Away With You" CD/LP/Track Review Away With You
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 18, 2016
Read "From Two Balconies" CD/LP/Track Review From Two Balconies
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "Floating City" CD/LP/Track Review Floating City
by James Nadal
Published: March 9, 2017
Read "The Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review The Unknown
by Budd Kopman
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by John Sharpe
Published: November 11, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!