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.