Jeff Berman – vibraphone
Ben Opie* – saxophones
Jeff Grubbs – bass
Dave Throckmorton – drums
* = Ben Opie filled in for Erik Lawrence on sax
The vibraphone is one of my favorite instruments used in jazz. It’s percussive and melodic at the same time and the vibrato is incredible. Several of my favorite Blue Note records from the 60’s feature vibist Bobby Hutcherson and one of my favorite musicians doing it right now is Jason Adasiewicz out of Chicago. Unfortunately, the vibraphone has a few things going against it like its bulky size and lack of availability (I dare you to find one on the sales floor of a Guitar Center or any local music store). Therefore, it’s not an instrument you encounter very often at weekly jazz sessions.
Having never seen this particular quartet, called Blink, I made it a point to free up my schedule on Sunday night so I could go down to James Street to see their set. The usual sax player in this ensemble is Erik Lawrence. I hadn’t seen him play in a few months and I was excited to see him in a small group with Throck. However, earlier in the day, I received an email from Ben Opie saying he would be filling in for Lawrence. This did not diminish my interest in this show at all. In fact, it made it sort of a sure thing.
These guys sounded really good and played pretty much all material that I was unfamiliar with which is great. Everything felt just about right. Nothing went too far out but nothing was too traditional for me either. The rhythm section was tight and none of the solos stretched out too long. I thought there would have been a few more people there but it wasn’t totally unexpected being that it was an early show on a Sunday night in Pittsburgh.
The video above was the last song in the first set. Berman called it “The Blink Theme”, although that might not be the official title. I dug the secret agent vibe of this piece. Enjoy!