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 love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.