Bass guitar virtuoso Jeff Berlin has announced that his Jack Bruce tribute album will feature lead contributions from a stellar line-up of guest talent, including Alex Lifson, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal and Eric Johnson.
The record pulls in all manner of names and focuses more on Bruce’s own compositions and solo material, as opposed to his best known tracks with Cream.
As such, Lifeson guests on the track Creamed, while Eric Johnson takes care of the solo on Theme from an Imaginary Western (a track that was a hit for Mountain but was penned by Bruce for his debut album Songs for a Tailor).
Thal contributes a solo on Rope Ladder to the Moon and there is yet more guitar talent on show in the form of Bill Frisell, who guests on One With A Word, while country ace Johnny Hiland stars on Cream tune Train Time.
Elsewhere, the album includes contributions from Sammy Hagar, Scott Henderson and a ‘bass relay’ featuring a stunning low-end line-up of Geddy Lee, Tony Levin, Billy Sheehan, Michael League, Nathan East, Mark King, Ron Carter and Marcus Miller.
The record was initially conceived soon after Bruce’s death in 2014, but faced severe delays – partly due to the fact that the fan-funding platform PledgeMusic went into liquidation in 2019. However, Berlin says the record is now finally available to order.
“Recording the music of Jack Bruce has been the most emotional recording project of my career,” explains Berlin. “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.
“Jack was the Alpha and Omega for me. I never would have become the bass player I became if I didn’t hear his unfettered improvisations and innovations, his creating a completely original bass tone, and his playing every gig as if it was his last.
“When he died, I immediately set out to honour him by reviewing his music to choose some of my favourite 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 honour his spirit. He really means this much to me.”
Berlin also spoke about his love of Jack Bruce – whom he had befriended – with Guitar World, back in 2020.
“Jack Bruce was one of the greatest musicians ever,” said Berlin. “He was an influence on everybody He was the first virtuoso the electric bass ever had The studio albums were really good, but Wheels Of Fire and Sweet Wine on Live Cream were unbelievable.
“For all the angst between him and Ginger Baker, they were made for each other in that band. I can remember every note of those records as I’m talking to you. Jack had jazz roots, and the nature of jazz is to be creative – and Jack brought that into rock. He was spellbinding.
“Pick any song from that live record. It was beautiful and just as influential as Jaco to any of us. It changed me: I’m the bass player I am now because of Jack.”
Jack Songs is available to order now from Jeff Berlin’s site (opens in new tab). The bassist has also informed former PledgeMusic backers that they will receive a free download of the album.