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Jeff Berlin - Joe Frazier Round 3

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by India_Sierra, Jun 21, 2018.

  1. Evening all,

    I had wanted to raise a thread here on Jeff Berlin's latest release, 'Joe Frazier Round 3'. I would be interested in hearing what you think of it, and if you haven't heard it, I'd urge you to check it out.

    I must preface this by saying I am in no way affiliated with Jeff's commercial enterprise. I am but a dedicated fan and I pay my way with everything (I have pre-ordered a copy of the upcoming 'Jack Songs' record, I paid for the first package of material from Jeff's excellent new reading course and I am awaiting my physical collectors edition of JFR3). I have found Jeff to be both warm and engaging, and he has found a great team to help him with his latest musical endeavours. I would be happy to call them good friends who have sought to bring me great music and to bring improvements to my bass playing, but I absolutely believe in the fairness that I should pay for everything I receive from them. There is no greater endorsement than putting your money where your mouth is.

    Now, to the music, which is what we're here for. Allow me to post a review of sorts.

    The first thing of note, a nice little bonus in the JFR3 package, is a remastered version of 'Joe Frazier Round 2', which was first heard on Jeff's 1986 album, 'Pump It!'. I wasn't sure what more there was to hear in a remastered version as the original holds up very well to the scrutiny of a modern Hi-Fi system. However, the remaster brings a level of authority and punch to the mix that wasn't there before. The drums have been given more 'room' in the spectrum, they now sound 3D - huge, room-filling and with a newfound depth. The bass track now sits front and centre and has been given a similar lift in audible authority. It sounds tremendous; a fabulous track given a more enticing rendering than ever before. Long time fans of Jeff will love it.

    The centrepiece of this new effort though, is an entirely new version of Jeff's classic tune, 'Joe Frazier Round 3'. I have been waiting for this track since Jeff announced that he was working on it last summer and to hear it now, realised in such a brilliant recording, is truly a big moment for me.

    It would be more than fair to the music to refer to this piece as a 'work'. At over seven minutes long, it is the longest version of 'Joe Frazier' so far and it is also the most complex. The familiar, winding theme of the original song returns again, re-worked and reimagined in an episodic piece that takes the listener through various moods and movements. The cast of musicians is an all-star assembly. Keith Carlock plays a blinder on the drums, leading the track with a consistent and powerful performance. He plays both with a nuance and thunder all at once, leading from the back with some powerful fills. A piece this long, with parts rock, funk and jazz, needed a drummer of the highest calibre to tie it all together and Keith nails this. He never lets go of the insistent pulse - my two year old daughter loves this tune and can lock into Keith's beat in an instant!

    The harmony is dealt with by David Sancious on the keys and Nashville session ace Tom Hemby on the rhythm guitars. Sancious in particular adds a layer of depth and melody to the music, and the arrangement of the key deserves special credit - they really lift the performance and add texture and counterpoint to the bass guitar. Steve Vai turns up in the middle for a setpiece solo that absolutely blazes, before Jeff ups the ante with his own overdriven solo.

    Speaking of Jeff's performance, he plays his Cort Rithimic bass and the tone is absolutely slamming. I don't think his recorded tone has ever sounded better, and Jeff's tone has been very pleasing to my ears in every era and every instance that I've heard it. Here, the bass sounds bigger and more powerful than ever, losing none of Jeff's famed articulation but coming with a 'stomp' and grunt that befits a track that rocks like this one does. The bass playing itself is just wonderful - I will leave it to you to absorb it but take note of the way Jeff reworks familiar sections of the classic 'Joe Frazier' tracks here. His overdriven solo wails with the soul of a bluesman and his precision and note choice are just stunning.

    Overall, the impression is of several top musicians coming together to absolutely lay it down on a project they all feel passionately about. There is a joy in the music. It will make you smile and even laugh out loud. The interplay and harmonic quality is just outstanding and most of all, it just flat out rocks! Jeff hasn't dropped a rock track like this since 'Pump It!' but as ever, he imbues the music with a level of sophistication that will appeal to the keen listener and I believe that JFR3 only improves with subsequent listens, as the ear begins to unlock the interplay and unpick the harmony and melody.

    If you think this sounds like fun, check out www.jeffberlinmusicgroup.com. On the Merch/JFR3 page, you will note a potted review I had sent to Sarah via email copied to the comments page. Thank you for reading my expanded thoughts on this piece and if you've read this far, do me the credit of checking the music out. I hope it gives you the same buzz it has given me.
  2. rtav

    rtav Millionaire Stuntman, Half-Jackalope

    Dec 12, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    Nice review!

    Fun song to play, too!
    mobdirt, gebass6 and India_Sierra like this.
  3. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Is there an actual place to hear this Joe Frazier Round 3? The website linked in the OP didn't seem to have any audio content online.
  4. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    There’s a thirty second clip of it on YouTube. I gave it a listen. Not a fan.
    guy n. cognito likes this.
  5. There is a short clip on YouTube but I have to say, as pleasant as it is, a 30 second short never does justice to a more expansive piece. To hear it as I would recommend, one must pay a small amount of money. Whilst I don't intend to debate on the merits of paying for art, I think it's fair that musicians should be paid for their work and I think you will enjoy the music.

    I am awaiting my physical copy, I think I was the first or second person to make an order as I got the notification when orders went live. I need to find another copy of 'Pump It!' as I lost my physical copy moving house a few years ago.
    JimK likes this.
  6. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013

    Last edited: Jun 24, 2018
  7. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    I like the new version, but I like Round 2 better. Why? Because the new one is a bit slower and although it's more complex, it doesn't capture the vibe of a prize fighter named Joe Frazier. Round 2 is frenetic and sounds like a boxer fighting. Round 3 is a little too smooth and slow. It doesn't sound like a boxing match. There are definitely some interesting things in it, but I liked the flow of Round 2 better.
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  8. Sam Von Reiche

    Sam Von Reiche

    Jun 30, 2018
  9. Sam Von Reiche

    Sam Von Reiche

    Jun 30, 2018
    I wanted to add some special props to this awesome review of Joe Frazier Round 3.

    John McCracken was Jeff Berlin’s partner in this project. John produced, engineered and mixed this amazing release. He and Jeff worked very closely to develop Joe Frazier Round 3’s special sound.

    Congratulations to John, Jeff and their amazing ensemble of musicians!
  10. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    I like the "Round 3"
    I like the chords.
    Adds tension to the piece.
    And using the Fender Rhodes sound takes me back to the 70's Fusion days.
    mobdirt and India_Sierra like this.
  11. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Welcome to TB......
  12. Hey, that's more than valid! Round 2 is an amazing track and none of the different 'Joe Frazier' songs takes anything away from the others.

    Each subsequent version of 'Joe Frazier' gets a little slower, and as a consequence seems to have more punch and more groove! I really feel like Round 3 is a great analagy to a boxing match. The way it flows from major to minor tonality shifts the mood - to me, it feels like it mimics the highs and lows of a boxer's fight. The pinnacle comes near the end, it just seems to reach a staggering peak. As the listener, you've climbed the mountain and you're invited to survey the journey you've been taken on. The more familiar I am with the track, the more it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

    I am desperate for my Rithimic to come back from the shop so I can get working on transcribing this.
  13. Yeah, the key sounds are amazing! A very classic palette of tones which add a real flavour. You don't hear those sounds much in modern fusion, some of the electric key sounds lend a Gospel-style vibe which is really cool. That sort of sound can wear on my ears if it's over used, so balancing it with a clean, acoustic piano was a smart move.

    It's an interesting step for 'Joe Frazier'. Whilst the previous versions were all virtuoso showpieces that gave room to all of their players, I think Round 3 is the most balanced and cohesive. I don't think any one instrument dominates the music. I could let my friends who aren't musicians listen to it and they would dig it for the music and not the flat-out chops.
  14. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
  15. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    Why transcribe it? If you buy it, you get the complete sheet music. I have it.
  16. I want to get the notes right inside my ear and learn it inside out. My reading ability is still pretty basic and although I could read it, I think I'll get more with it when I transcribe by ear.

    I'm still waiting on my physical copy coming, but looking forward to it!
    Lownote38 likes this.
  17. fusionguy


    Aug 21, 2014
    I hope Jeff tours in the near future. It was great seeing him play with the amazing Scott Henderson on guitar!
    ritz and India_Sierra like this.
  18. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    India_Sierra likes this.
  19. bSc8QMA.jpg

    This little treasure came for me in the post on Tuesday. Quite an auspicious day for me, since when I found it waiting in my hallway, I had just returned from the hospital following the birth of my second daughter. Two great things came on one day!

    Jeff had recently performed with Steve Vai at Steve's 'Big Mama Jamma Jamathon' event, which is where I expect these CD's were signed and they were offered for sale through the Jeff Berlin Music Group Page. Limited to just 25 copies, I decided to dive in immediately to secure one. This will surely rank among my most treasured possessions.

    Steve nailed such a great solo on Joe Frazier Round 3, so it's really cool to get my hands on this. It means a lot to me!
  20. el jeffe bass

    el jeffe bass

    Nov 22, 2013
    New Mexico
    He truly is a fantastic bassist.
    India_Sierra likes this.

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