Entertaining versus Musical musicians - More Jeff Berlin

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Now Jeff Berlin rants just bore me.In reference to those who have studied with him...Is he a good teacher? Just reading some of this stuff you can almost vicariously draw conclusions about that. Big mouths who came to education through the back door used to be a sore spot at the Smith Thanksgiving dinner. The conclusion was there are thousands of great teachers who can problem solve behind the scenes without the big mouth...and yes...playing and teaching appear to be two different professions. Being able to play doesn't always even give you as much as a clue about teaching.
Jeff is very skilled at his own thing, but being a teacher myself I think he has a lot to learn in that regard. When you go to a school to learn the basics of music most of us I think would prefer someone with a wider perspective on music and life in general. The teacher I got the best along with at the Players' School was the piano teacher Matt Boculic. Great teacher, really nice guy and plays with true passion.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
You kind of get the feeling he's been beating his brains out on poor quality students for a few years too many. And I don't understand the "belistener" thing- he's so attached to the clever turn of phrase (cribbed from Dewey Redman) that he doesn't seem to realize he's supporting his call for standards with a saying that is anti-standards.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Boy wouldn't I like to be a guest at the next Smith Thanksgiving. Can you video it? Would love to hear the conversation at THAT table...
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
Now Jeff Berlin rants just bore me.In reference to those who have studied with him...Is he a good teacher? Just reading some of this stuff you can almost vicariously draw conclusions about that. Big mouths who came to education through the back door used to be a sore spot at the Smith Thanksgiving dinner. The conclusion was there are thousands of great teachers who can problem solve behind the scenes without the big mouth...and yes...playing and teaching appear to be two different professions. Being able to play doesn't always even give you as much as a clue about teaching.
 

Skitch

Pioneer Member
I see a lot of artists making what they feel is important music, who resent not having made it big. Even when insist they'd never want to appeal to the masses, they still pout when they attract only a niche audience. It's the same frustrated musicians lash out at commercialism, and lament how people who buy most music are just sheep. Funny, I've never encountered well-adjusted or successful players saying that... it's always the 'artistes' who have the biggest chimp on their shoulder.

Bermuda
I always go back to Warren Cucurrulo, the ex-Zappa and ex-Missing Persons guitarist, who joined Duran Duran after the demise of Missing Persons. Warren had played in many different types of bands to that point and in 1993 went into the studio to record his own music which was released soon thereafter on a disc titled "Thanks ot Frank". This was Warren's music, his statement that, although he had played the "McDonald's hamburger of music", he coud still play and that ultimately, the Duran Duran gig was merely a day job which paid for his artistic expression. Warren's disc has Vinnie Colaiuta playing drums and it is was during this time which Vinnie was playing for Sting (to which some may yawn); the playing on that disc is scary!

Another musician whose name is going to be withheld, has his own studio in the valley. He currently plays for a very well-know 1980s act. The studio becomes a place of refuge for him - away from the world of commercialism - where he can focus on what he wants whether it be playing or producing.


Mike

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Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I see a lot of artists making what they feel is important music, who resent not having made it big. Even when insist they'd never want to appeal to the masses, they still pout when they attract only a niche audience. It's the same frustrated musicians lash out at commercialism
But where is he drawing the line? Is he referring to ALL popular music or is he talking about the increasing concentration on dolly birds and himbos backed by machines? If the latter, fair 'nuff IMO

If he's concerned about declining standards in the popular realm then it's beholden to superior players offended by the current state of affairs to produce music that's both sophisticated and popular. There's tons of talented artists who have made it big playing satisfying music with passion.

Since he doesn't seem to want to do that then he's taking the next must fun option - grizzling. Complaining is a fun and satisfying pasttime for many.

I first heard JB playing on Bill Bruford's first solo album. His playing was great, though I thought he was too derivative of Jaco. Since then I've heard a few shredding fusion things by him on YouTube that are, as Spreggy described, "nonsensical over-soloed themeless mass of "look what I can do" ... Just listen to all those notes!"
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
I am guessing some of his comments come from realizing he's older and has not had the success or name recognition as some people he used to be considered on the same level as.
I see a lot of artists making what they feel is important music, who resent not having made it big. Even when insist they'd never want to appeal to the masses, they still pout when they attract only a niche audience. It's the same frustrated musicians lash out at commercialism, and lament how people who buy most music are just sheep. Funny, I've never encountered well-adjusted or successful players saying that... it's always the 'artistes' who have the biggest chimp on their shoulder.

Bermuda
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Sheesh, 2 hours ago I'd never even heard of Jeff Berlin.
Bermuda
I'm kind of surprised there. He's been a highly regarded bass player for a good 20-30 years.

Although that may be part of his issue. He was highly regarded, and then fell out of public view. His brand of fusion never quite seemed to catch on as well as the Chick Corea Elektric Band, John Patitucci, Scott Henderson, and the like. And his attempts to cross over into the rock world were never really successful.

I am guessing some of his comments come from realizing he's older and has not had the success or name recognition as some people he used to be considered on the same level as.
 

paistemage

Senior Member
It's difficult.

To ME, I love all types of music, no matter what technical proficency level the players are at. In this day an age of electronic composition, what level the producer is at as well, as far as technical proficency.

That being said a LOT of music nowadays is garbage and a discredit to the artform. It is subjective, what I like may not be what you like. I like Morphine,Wu tang clan, fantomas, melvins, miles davis and rachmaninoff all for various reasons.

People making songs about grills, their teeth, or maybe the fact that they are drunk in a club is ridiculous.

I expect MORE from my music. Not over produced banal emotionless music. Duh.

I don't feel the guycomes off as arrogant. He is just a player who is very skilled commenting on the dumbed down version of a lot of music nowadays.

Ludacris talking getting people int heir birthday suits is a LOT different than say MINOR THREAT talking about bottled violence.

I love simple music. Son House, John lee hooker, any blues really or even the MISFITS.

Complicated compositions aren't immediately delegated to greatness.

Portishead is not as complex as Emperor, as a band. "Sworn," off Emperors 9 equilibrium album is amazing, and Portishead's entire album, third is revolutionary.

Instead of saying the guy is full of hot air and ego, take a look from his perspective. The way I read it, is that he is saying a lot of people don't seem to be trying to making music for musics sake, its more about the product, a catchphrase, etc.

Ron Carter, one of the best bass palyers ever, next to good old Les, would probrably not think that "Kesha" making a song about being drunk in the VIP makes more sense on an emotional level than say "Blue and Green."

People will herd towards the next product, don't take into context the players perspective, and if it has a good beat and they can dance , they will buy it.

Forget if it's Bob Dylans "Masters of war." Doesn't beat the "thong song."
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Right, because even this catchy little work of genius couldn't be saved by the combined efforts of Steve Smith and Neil whatshisname... I assume that this is what passes for good music in Mr. Berlin's world.

I don't get that kind of cornball crap wankery. If that's good music, then I'm happy about liking the inferior stuff.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
But somebody is out there voting with their wallets, so who am I to judge what other people think?
Exactly, but Jeff sounds like he does need to judge others, and he undoubtedly invokes the McDonald's defense when doing so: just because McDonald's sells billions of hamburgers doesn't mean they make the best hamburger.

Again, what 'best' means to one person is not what it means to the next. What's the best snare? The best cymbal? The best car? The best band? The answer is, it varies, and ultimately, each person decides what's best for him or her. But the drum company, or car company, or band's record label doesn't make the decision about what's best for the end user... and neither does Jeff.

Sheesh, 2 hours ago I'd never even heard of Jeff Berlin. Maybe I should explore his music to get a better idea? Nah, I'd probably just be entertained, and he'd hate me for that.

Bermuda
 

Naigewron

Platinum Member
Am I understanding him right? Is he really saying that someone can't be both musical and entertaining? I prefer musicians who have both these qualities.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
He clearly gets the theory and mechanics of playing better than the vast majority of players and of course, listeners. So that entitles him to belittle the musical tastes of just about every player and listener? I can't see the symmetry in that. His head is incredibly large and firmly wedged up into his dank region.

I hate when any players start dictating what is good and bad, as if by virtue of their learned knowledge, they can somehow invalidate what sonics resonate with me. I know we've batted it around a thousand times on this forum, but I still do not buy into the idea that art is not subjective. I think these arguments confuse "art" with "technical skill" and learned knowledge because while there may often be considerable overlap, they can be teased apart.
 

Spreggy

Silver Member
If I may be so bold as to spout (tongue in cheek) insensitive rantings in the style of Mr. Berlin, it's no surprise to me that a fusion player thinks the world should be enthralled with that often nonsensical over-soloed themeless mass of "look what I can do" called Jazz Fusion. Just listen to all those notes!

I understand what he's saying on certain levels, I can't believe the "Diva surrounded by 7 effeminate dancers" genre sells tickets, but there it is. Or shoe gazers, or any wall-of-sound style modern rock band, or new bands that start every song with a guitar wank-wank-wank riff, etc etc ad nauseum. But somebody is out there voting with their wallets, so who am I to judge what other people think?

I disagree with his quip on music education. I sell all day to shops that sell to school aged players, and I can tell you first hand that classical music training is alive and well in the US of A. Our local school district has an amazing program that my kids were fortunate to be a part of, and the city is surrounded by schools that are at the same level.

Everybody can tell the difference between good players and entertaining posers, many just don't give a crap, they wanna have a good time, and as Zappa says, hey whatever you wanna do for a good time let's get on with it as long as it doesn't cause a murder.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Entertainer vs Musician is something I used to think of as a difference when I was kid.

Then once you get into the music world, the line is so blurred, that you realize it doesn't exist.

There is a lot of cheesy music out there that requires a lot of skill to pull off, and there is a lot of technically amazing music that is pretty cheesy to listen to. Some music maybe cheesy but still fun. Some bands may have great "musician" oriented material, but it's their one "entertaining" song that they become known for. Some musicians have amazing chops, but only get paid to play basic 2 and 4 type stuff.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
I've never heard of Jeff Berlin, but he apparently fits into the category of artiste, which is just an artist, but snootier. They typically loathe the concept of entertaining with their music, as if they're a circus elephant. It's those types who, after I see them play, will make a point to say that I was entertained. I do not suffer 'genuises' gladly.

Players are entitled to pursue the path they want, just as the public is entitled to listen to and appreciate what they want. For Jeff to tell others what is good, bad or entertaining shows tremendous arrogance and disrespect. How nice for him that he's so amazing. But I repeat, I do not suffer 'genuises' gladly.

Bermuda
Jon, you just put down my thoughts much better than I did in my earlier post. I don't take his rants as putting down manufactured record company processed fodder (I think we all have that feeling to some extent), he's putting down everything that he regards as beneath him. As far as I gather, that's just about eveything, including a lot of stuff I find beauty in. Although I think it's great to strive for better standards, there's no way I'm being told what is & what isn't good enough for me to appreciate.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Having said that, his opinions go beyond perspective and into oppressive judgement. All art has an entertainment value and something that is entertaining can also be be art. (Ask Louie Armstrong or the Beatles). That's Berlin's Achilles heel. He doesn't get that. He doesn't want to. He is so beyond mere mortals in ability he can't see the forest through the trees.
I've never heard of Jeff Berlin, but he apparently fits into the category of artiste, which is just an artist, but snootier. They typically loathe the concept of entertaining with their music, as if they're a circus elephant. It's those types who, after I see them play, will make a point to say that I was entertained. I do not suffer 'genuises' gladly.

Players are entitled to pursue the path they want, just as the public is entitled to listen to and appreciate what they want. For Jeff to tell others what is good, bad or entertaining shows tremendous arrogance and disrespect. How nice for him that he's so amazing. But I repeat, I do not suffer 'genuises' gladly.

Bermuda
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
As unpalatable as some of his statements are, I totally support his intentions.

I am assuming his intentions are to try to embarass, if necessary, people into realizing that the quality of music is on a downward spiral.

I applaud him for taking an unpopular view, somebody has to fight the status quo. Music needs voices like his to counter the tide of mediocrity, even if it's a whisper among a crowd.
 

bigd

Silver Member
If he's really concerned with playing and supporting true elite music then let him get a gig with one of the symphony orchestras. The true elite musicians of america are struggling more then ever. Symphonies are going bankrupt and fewer patrons are attending then ever. As for music educators not being up to his standards, let him go discuss music with one of the professors at a true music conservatory. I wish him luck in that.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
I agree there's a ton of processed crap out there, but I think Jeff's disregarding that & referring to what you & I would find to be mostly pretty good stuff. If I'm right on that, he's advocating elite music for elite ears. That's fine, but the audience will be forever small, & eventually propped up by public finance like opera & similar select musical based art forms. Let's face it, he's against the vast majority of popular music, & certainly anything he believes to be beneath his own high playing standards.

I think he needs to chill a bit, then maybe he'll let himself go & actually look for beauty rather than costantly digging to find fault.
 
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