Episode #39 – Summary

28 Mar

Recording Date: May 18, 2006
Recording Location: Star City Recording, Bethlehem, PA

This session, which included the amazing Jeff Berlin, is a bit unusual in that it features a number of different ensembles, assembled from a diverse pool of 11 different musicians who were all with us in the studio that day. We taped a duo, a couple of trios and a few different full band configurations. It was interesting and fun, to say the least.

Jeff Berlin

Our group of musicians had two bass players, two drummers, two guitarists, two keyboard players, two saxophonists and one percussionist. We had Jeff Berlin and Demitri Sahnas on bass, drummers John Herrera and Rodney Holmes, Jef Lee Johnson and Thano Sahnas on guitar, Jeff Levine on B3 organ, Steve Culp on piano, Jaared and Dominic Amato on saxophones and Emedin Rivera on percussion.

Jeff Berlin is a legend of the electric bass. He is considered by many to be the finest electric bass player in the world. Noted for his fluid lyrical playing, Jeff is also a pioneer of slap bass.

Rodney Holmes

We taped lots of interesting music material that day. A total of 6 different tracks made it into the final edited episode. There are a few other takes that didn’t make the final cut. First, we included a track with a full band of 6 musicians, that included a core rhythm section of Jeff Berlin on bass and Rodney Holmes on drums, performing Coltrane’s jazz standard Impressions.

Jef Lee Johnson

That was followed by a trio of Jeff Berlin on bass, Rodney Holmes on drums and Jef Lee Johnson on guitar recording a terrific track of 5G, a vintage track that was in fact written and recorded by Jeff Berlin back in 1979. Jef Lee had suggested they play it and Rodney agreed. But it was funny to see Jeff trying hard to remember it, as he hadn’t played it himself in a number of years! After 10 or 15 minutes of rehearsal, the 3 of them hit it hard and delivered it full force. It was great. As many of you know, Jef is one of my favorite guitarists. Listening to him with Jeff and Rodney was incredible and truly inspiring. I loved it!

We also featured Jeff (Berlin) in another trio set-up with drummer John Herrera and percussionist Emedin Rivera performing an improvised solo treatment of the Eric Clapton/Tommy Simms hit, If I Saw You In Heaven. We recorded 2 nice takes of this tune.


Then there was a totally different band configuration that recorded interesting covers of both Theloneous Monk’s Well, You Needn’t and Stanley Turrentine’s Sugar. There were nice solos on both these tunes from a number of the players, including Steve, Jef Lee, Dominic and Jaared.

Another highlight of this session for me was our spontaneous taping of guitarist Jef Lee Johnson and saxophonist Jaared playing the classic Killer Joe…only the 2 of them. They were just fooling around with it during a break…and it sounded great! So much so, that I simply told my cameramen to start rolling tape again and asked the 2 musicians to simply continue with what they were doing, but to please just go back and take it from the head. It too was terrific…a magical spontaneous moment.

Song Names

  1. Impressions (band)
  2. 5G (trio)
  3. If I Saw You In Heaven (trio)
  4. Well, You Needn’t (band)
  5. Sugar (band)
  6. Killer Joe (duo)

– Tom Emmi / Producer



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