Wednesday night at the Jazz Base, guitarist Chuck Loeb was leading a bunch of daring musicians through his Berks Bop III night, a concert which was dedicated to the art of bebop, taking place for the third time and always drawing a big crowd. The club was packed and not a single seat was empy. They kicked off the show with "Billy's Bounce", originally done by Charlie Parker, featuring the horn section, saxophonist Eric Marienthal did the first solo, followed by Rick Braun on trumpet, then it was Gerald Albright's turn, each player having a distinct sound on his instrument, before Chuck Loeb took the chance to shine on guitar, then Jeff Lorber did a smoking solo on the keys, next was bassist Brian Bromberg on acoustic bass soloing, the band was supported by the excellent Lionel Cordew on drums, who seemed to have a lot of fun playing this kind of music. After this one, they did "Night In Tunisia", originally done by Dizzy Gillespie, slowing things down a bit, before the pace decidedly picked up with Miles Davis' "Donna Lee" who really was the ultimate challenge for the horn section, Jeff Lorber on acoustic piano and Chuck Loeb on guitar played like hell as well, it was great to see those world class players to master this complex tune. After that, they did Charlie Parker's "My Little Suede Shoes", followed by Thelonius Monk's "Round Midnight" featuring Gerald Albright to relax a bit, before after one more uptempo track we had a short intermission.
The second part of the concert was started with "All The Things You Are", followed by Charlie Parker's "Ornithology" that featured the two saxophonists, then Rick Braun brought his valve trombone for "St. Thomas", a song made famous by Sonny Rollins. Next was John Coltrane's "Giant Steps", before Rick Braun sang "Body & Soul", a song he covered previously on his shows, just accompanied by Chuck Loeb on guitar, additionally featuring his trumpet playing. One more uptempo track and the show was over, but they returned for an encore and did Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar", which brought a great show to an end. Experiencing those great players in an intimate club setting playing from their hearts is always a joy, I am glad that the Berks Jazz Fest offers this opportunity, and the packed house made it look very likely that we will get Berks Bop IV next year.