This program of sensual ballads gives the Shelly Berg Trio plenty of room to express deep feelings about the music and about how jazz has given each member a long and fruitful career doing what he loves. Each solos frequently and passionately, but with subdued emphasis. A ballad caress needn't be amplified or swung hard. The meaning becomes clearer when an audience is given the chance to absorb it gradually. Here, the pianist, bassist, and drummer set these wheels in motion naturally. Romance and lyrical passion occupy the front seats by default.
Berg pounds out "I Hear a Rhapsody" with the enthusiasm that he's been recognized for on previous recordings and in live appearances. Long known as a powerful swinger and forceful driver, he can't help making a lasting impression.
The remainder of the session, however, is devoted to tender interpretations that sizzle underneath the surface. Berg ensures that each melodic phrase is woven seamlessly through the trio's interpretations. He uses up every ounce of strength available in his thorough treatment of a song but restrains the urge to shout it out loudly. Instead, the pianist and his partners find a quiet release for their tales. The listener, of course, is free to add an "Amen" or a "Yeah" as often as he sees fit. It's that kind of a listening experience.
Even Berg's "Hot it Up," though framed within a forceful, hard bop landscape, shows up somewhat quiet and decidedly cool. It's a chance to sit back and enjoy without being overwhelmed by the force of the music. Blackbird ranks as Berg's best recording thus far and comes highly recommended. His "Julia" closes the album with a slow and romantic appreciation for the natural direction that acoustic ballads should always come to us: from the heart.
Track Listing: All My Tomorrows; Estate; Blackbird; I Hear a Rhapsody; Question and Answer; A Flower is a Lovesome Thing; All the Things You Are; Hot it Up; Blame it on the Sun; She's Always a Woman; If I Should Lose You; Julia.
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.