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HBC

REVIEW 4cups

Jazz-fusion legends, Scott Henderson, Jeff Berlin and Dennis Chambers, released a new trio album, HBC, on Tone Center Records (a division of Shrapnel Records) back in October 2012. Perhaps one of the most phenomenal trios in the history of jazz-fusion, HBC's selt-titled, debut CD offers musicians and jazz aficionados a full dose of virtuosic performances — guaranteed to thrill and inspire all who listen.

The music on HBC is predominantly cover tunes and reflects the influences and spirit of the jazz-fusion supergroup. Tracks include Weather Report classics like Wayne Shorter's "Mysterious Traveller," "Footprints," "Sighseeing," as well as Joe Zawinul's "D Flat Waltz" and "The Orphan," Herbie Hancock's "Actual Proof," Billy Cobham's "Stratus," and two originals — a guitar/bass duo piece, "Threedom," by Jeff Berlin, and a blues tune, "Wayward Son of Devil Boy," penned by Henderson, Berlin and Chambers.

Some back story worth mentioning ... before recording HBC, the trio spent a lot of time on the road performing and refining their repertoire in front of thousands of fans.

The performance value and technical prowess is extremely high on HBC, as one would expect, however, I felt it lacked originality and direction for being an album of cover tunes. Lovers of anything fusion and Scott Henderson will dig this album, while fans of Weather Report and those seeking to hear a lot from Dennis Chambers may feel a little underwhelmed.


Scott Henderson is considered one of the premier jazz-fusion guitarists performing on the planet today. Although Henderson claims to be more of a blues-rock player, with influences like Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix and Ritchie Blackmore, it was the influence of jazz that led him to the style of playing and composing he is now famous for. Henderson has recorded and toured with such notable artists as Chick Corea's Elektric Band, Jean-Luc Ponty, and a four year stint with Weather Report legend Joe Zawinul. He formed the band Tribal Tech in 1984 with bassist Gary Willis, and recorded ten critically acclaimed albums. In 1991 Scott Henderson was named by Guitar World as the #1 Jazz Guitarist, and in January 1992 he was named # 1 Jazz Guitarist in Guitar Player's Annual Reader's Poll. Henderson has also released three well-received solo albums as well as two releases with Vital Tech Tones, a trio collaboration with bassist Victor Wooten and ex-Journey/Vital Information leader Steve Smith on drums. As is often the case with a musician of Scott's caliber, the demand is great that he share his knowledge with the current generation of guitarists. He is on the faculty at Musician's Institute in Hollywood, and has written columns for Guitar Player, Guitar World and Guitar School magazines.

Jeff Berlin is a legend of the electric bass, considered by many to be the finest electric bass player in the world. A true master of the bass, Jeff Berlin has played with the likes of Bill Bruford, Alan Holdsworth, AWBH and George Benson. Jeff Berlin's resume reads like the who's who of the higher echelon of music artists. Jeff Berlin was even asked to join Van Halen, an invitation that he actually turned down. Not only is Jeff Berlin a innovator in the jazz field, but rock players are constantly siting him as their major influence. Carlos Santana called Jeff the "best bassist in the world", while Rush's Geddy Lee used the phrase "best bassist on the planet!" Jeff Berlin's innovative bass playing has influenced a generation of bass players world-wide. He was voted #1 Jazz Bassist by the readers of Guitar Player Magazine. Jeff also pioneered a technique called 'two handed tapping', when he performed this style on the track "Motherlode" from his 1985 debut solo album called 'Champion'. The founder of The Players School of Music in Clearwater, Florida, Jeffhas also been at the forefront of music education for almost 30 years. His columns in Guitar Player and Bass Player magazines were the most read columns due to their controversial content of music education. Jeff single-handedly has revamped music education by dismissing popular methods of learning such as using electronic tuners, metronomes, handgrips, tablature, or any study method that does not include musical content.

Dennis Chambers is a miracle in modem music; a formidable, ferocious and ultra-funky presence behind the drum kit in such celebrated ensembles as Parliament-Funkadelic, Steely Dan, Santana and the Brecker Brothers, as well as incendiary fusion outfits led by guitarists John Scofield, Steve Khan, Mike Stem and John McLaughlin. A remarkably versatile drummer who has shown limitless abilities to swing on a small kit in traditional jazz settings or flaunt his stylistic chops in rock-fusion super sessions, Dennis Chambers is one of the most recorded and sought after drummers in the world of Jazz-Fusion. In 2007, just before Led Zeppelin was scheduled to perform at the 02 Arena in London, John Bonham's son Jason was asked in an interview, if he was to give up the drum seat for the reunited Zeppelin, who would he recommend to fill the coveted drum throne. He replied, "I would probably want a jazz drummer with a strong swing feel. Dennis Chambers ... I think he would 'get it', whereas other rock drummers wouldn't."