Jeff Berlin Honors Jack Bruce on “Jack Songs”
In 2014, the world lost a musical giant with the passing of Jack Bruce. From his work with Cream to his solo material, the bassist/vocalist’s songs proved to be highly influential for musicians of all walks of life. That includes Jeff Berlin, who also became a personal friend of Bruce’s. Berlin began working on a tribute album shortly after his passing, and now that album is available as Jack Songs.
“Recording the music of Jack Bruce has been the most emotional recording project of my career,” Berlin admits. “Jack was the greatest bass influence I ever had. In the center of his music were these strange and wonderful bass lines weaving in and out of the key, reaching for resolutions and finding them, again, and again. Jack’s playing was a living evolving improvisation. When he died, I immediately set out to honor him by reviewing his music to choose some of my favorite songs of his and recording them via my own musical vision. As was his legacy of musical brilliance, I wanted this record to be brilliant to honor his spirit. He really means this much to me.”
Jack Songs features music inspired by Bruce as well as some arrangements of his classic songs that the bassist says will surprise people. Most of the songs are new compositions that invoke Bruce’s spirit and musical DNA.
“In arranging the music, I was inspired by Giles Martin’s production of The Beatles ‘Love’ CD,” he says. “His production work on this CD is fantastic. I tried to follow his example of his fitting various Beatle song quotes from different tunes into each tune by doing a similar thing by combining different Jack songs. Rather than computerized manipulation of music that was already recorded, I arranged the music so that each song on ‘Jack Songs’ would end up as an individual work comprised of various parts of other songs in them. I never would have thought of this without Giles showing me this path.”
To fill out the music, Berlin called on an unreal cast of musicians, including Sammy Hagar, Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, Gregg Bissonette, Gary Husband, Eric Johnson, Bill Frisell, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, Alex Ligertwood, Johnny Hiland, Scott Henderson, and Bruce Guttridge. A tribute to Bruce would also have to have killer bass work. Berlin shares the low end with Marcus Miller, Ron Carter, Tony Levin, Michael League, Nathan East, Mark King, Billy Sheehan, and Geddy Lee, who all trade solos during the track “Smiles Story and Morning Grins.”
Jack Songs is available now directly through Berlin’s website.
Jack Songs Track List:
- Theme From An Imaginary Western
- A Letter of Thanks
- L’Angelo Misterioso
- Rope Ladder to the Moon
- One Without a Word
- Smiles Story and Morning Grins
- Folk Song
- Traintime Time
- Fuimus (We Have Been)