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BX3 Shows That Bass Players Rule

Of the Oakland Press

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At 54, Jeff Berlin calls himself the “elder kucker” of the touring bass guitar trio BX3. He’s also separated by style — Berlin is a jazz cat, while tour mates Billy Sheehan and Stuart Hamm have mostly hard rock credentials.

Nevertheless, Berlin says, the combination works.

“This is quite simply the best combination bass group that ever was,” says Berlin, who’s worked with

John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Bill Bruford

and others, and founded the Players School of Music in Clearwater, Fla. “The excitement we project and the fun we’re having is a one-of-a-kind experience.

“And what makes it even more special is we’re getting along famously. We’re in a van hanging out pretty much eight hours a day. The hang is great, and the reward for us is the music.”

Berlin says he, Hamm and Sheehan have a litany of plans for BX3, including CDs and DVDs of their live shows and perhaps even working on some original material together. The collaboration, he notes, is “still relatively in our infancy,” but the trio is hoping that, if nothing else, they’re generating a bit more appreciation for their instrument, which is generally the backbone of the band and seldom a spotlight part of the sound.

“Bass players, by nature, are the more ignored members of a band, unless you sing or you’re (Paul) McCartney or Sting,” explains Berlin, who also maintains his own band. “We play as well as most guitar players right now, and we feel we’re equal to and sometimes better than a lot of guitarists celebrated for their playing ability.

“We just want to show the fact that we play our butts off. We are players, proud of the work we’ve done over the years. What we’re doing here together is so new that it ought to be celebrated for that fact alone.”

BX3, featuring Jeff Berlin, Stuart Hamm and Billy Sheehan, performs Sunday (Feb. 18) at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call (248) 544-1991 or visit www.themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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