Reviews - Ideals
Steve Herberman is an exceptional guitarist..."Ideals" is a delight, artfully played and quietly triumphant.
- Robert Doerschuk, Downbeat Magazine (5/09)
D.C. -based guitarist Steve Herberman showcases his formidable chops in an intimate trio setting with bassist Tom Baldwin and drummer Mark Ferber. The swinging collection includes vibrant new arrangements of standards like Weill' "This Is New" and Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes," along with affecting Herberman originals like the introspective ballad "Let Go," the jaunty "She's For Me," the infectious second-line groover "Upbeat," and the gorgeous title track. A must for guitar aficionados.
- Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes (3/09)
Steve Herberman is one of the most respected names in the world of jazz guitar and he serves his cause well with the 2009 CD release of Ideals by the Steve Herberman Trio... Great jazz guitar playing, great chording work and solid improv combine on a CD that sounds like it could have been recorded live on stage at the Blue Note.
- Robert Silverstein, MWE3.com (7/09)
With each release Steve Herberman's skills become more and more evident... Herberman is at home with atmospheric boppers like "This Is New" as he is with introspective ballads like the title cut. The former offers a full menu of chops, mixing chords with single-lines and everything in between. It never becomes clichéd, and Herberman's use of chromatics adds an element that takes you by surprise and keeps things moving. The original "She's For Me" is another chance to take in the chops: while playing with incredible soul and wit, Herberman recalls the history of jazz guitar in an imaginative, leisurely-paced swinger... Herberman isn't a household name among jazz fans like some of his generation have become, but his playing and compositional skills should make him one.
-John Heidt, Vintage Guitar magazine (6/09)
Steve Herberman gives notice of guitar chops galore. His trio with Tom Baldwin and Mark Ferber gets you shaking your head in amazement right off with a ripping version of Kurt Weill's "This Is New." ...Herberman has the single note jazz style down... I know guitar freaks are a special breed so be aware: Steve Herberman is a guitarist you need to check out.
-George Fendel, Jazz Scene (2/09)
Over the last decade the D.C.guitarist has earned the respect of his fellow musicians and students of jazz guitar alike with his work as an educator and a performer...
The rhythm section of Baldwin and Ferber do a magnificent job throughout the CD reacting to the nuances of Herberman's playing and arrangements... The arrangements and performances are top-notch and you forget after a while that you are listening to a trio because it seems at times like there are more. In my house I have some jazz guitar trio recordings that I listen to often and Ideals measures up to them nicely. I highly recommend it.
-Chip Henderson, Just Jazz Guitar (02/09)
...It's true that jazz guitarist Steve Herberman is one of my favorite mainstream jazz guitarists. That said, I think I can still be objective as it relates to his craft & artistic delivery. 'Control' is what Steve's talent(s) is all about. And, his devilish take on the classic standard “Will You Still Be Mine” will attest to this! More important is his guitar nuances, his feeling for the song, his overall interpretive cast on the American Songbook, his melodic line, his choice of jazz harmonies. This defines his massive talents. In this extensive CD project, there are an astonishing variety of straight ahead jazz ballads and up tempo song choices, delivered with immense sophistication. The power, quantity, and quality of Steve's effort here puts him in the category of those jazz players that one can only aspire to...
-George W Carroll, The Musicians' Ombudsman (10/08)
Much of what is written in reviews about Herberman's playing is analogous to the created illusion of two guitarists, or the use of
overdubbing. Ideals however, finds such statement wanting and unsuitable. Guitar and piano trios have always each had a distinctive
vibe and aesthetic, but here, Herberman blurs the line with his adept application of counterpoint and refined harmonic epitome. Voicings never sound 'stock', rather well considered and purposeful, but by no means overly contrived, while improvised lines roll out with subtle diversity in phrasing and above all, dynamic contrast. His accompaniment, both of himself and his band mates is complimentary, exacting, and always stylish.
Following on from his sophomore recording: Action:Reaction (Reach Music, 2006), Herberman is again joined by drummer Mark Ferber, and this time, by new recruit Tom Baldwin on the bass. However, in contrast to the previous album—which was entirely comprised of his
imaginative and polished compositions—he stretches out into the domain of the great jazz composers; visiting the works of Gershwin, Victor Young, Mal Waldron and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
The four originals presented continue in his strong exploration of harmony and form, with the melodies perhaps smoother, and less angular than on previous outings. "She's For Me" is a prime example of this well developed and delivered work, and Baldwin adds an exemplar improvisation which connects perfectly with Herberman's playing, leading to the crisp tradeoff with Ferber.
The connection between bass and guitar is again supremely evident on Baldwin's arrangement of "Soon". Here, polar disparities between the whimsical four-on-the-floor bass-led melody of the opening, and the virtuosic jostling at the close, reveal a strong, and most importantly effective relationship between the musicians. This is not to say that Ferber doesn't contribute; his rhythmic sensibility and precise flair behind the kit doesn't just fulfill the drummer's cliché of "holding the trio together"—an unfair assessment of his impact—rather, he truly furthers the group as a musical entity.
Herberman continues to be one of the finest guitarists of his generation, and Ideals slots perfectly into an already notable, and
hopefully long celebrated discography.
-Dave Major, All About Jazz (10/08)
Reviews - Action:Reaction
Bill Milkowski's review in May ‘07 JazzTimes:
On this superb outing, seven-string jazz guitarist Steve Herberman exhibits a vast harmonic palette involving uncommon stretches on the fretboard along with a real capacity to burn on fluent single note lines. Alternating between a deft fingerstyle approach on rich chordal melodies, a technique that allows for more contrapuntal voicings, and using a pick on accelerated single note runs, Herberman gets the best of both worlds on his instrument. Hearing his sheer command of the instrument on pieces like the burning bop-fueled “Cos' Groove,” the darkly introspective “Negev Journey” and jaunty swingers like “Be Nimble” and “Sphericity” immediately puts one in mind of such jazz guitar masters as Joe Pass, Joe Diorio, Lenny Breau, and Gene Bertoncini. His nuanced touch, excellent tone, tasteful, even phrasing and fresh writing style, particularly on delicate ballads like “Halcyon Air” and “Nearly Time,” the challenging intervallic vehicle “Snap!” or the angular boogaloo “Worry Not,” further elevates Herberman far above the pack of other talented Berklee grads now looking to find their place in the jazz world.
The D.C.-based Herberman also excised good judgment in recruiting New Yorkers Drew Gress and Mark Ferber for his rhythm section on his project. Gress, a stalwart on New York's downtown scene, is one reliable groovemeister and one of the most creative improvisers around. His tone is huge and his time feel on swingers like the up-tempo “Cos' Groove” and mid-tempo numbers like “Shoutin' Down” and “Sphericity” is solid and unerring. And his melodic solos on the bossa-flavored “Halcyon Air” and on “Nearly Time” contain rare beauty. Though highly regarded inside the alternative jazz circles, the largely underrated Ferber shows uncommon empathy throughout this session, along a relaxed, rhythmically assured sense of swing, as he aptly demonstrates on “Shoutin' Down,” which features some hip exchanges between guitarist and drummer.
Herberman's follow-up to 2001's Thought Lines is definitely worth checking out for fans of advanced jazz guitar.
– Bill Milkowski (Author of “The Extraordinary and Tragic Life Of Jaco Pastorius”)
" Steve Herberman is a guitarist with first-rate touch, and admirable facility, who achieves exceptional sound on his instrument. And in the forest of guitarists that's no mean feat."
-Willard Jenkins, The Independent Ear (Feb. 07)
"Herberman has written complex and interesting music that will hold your attention... His guitar lines are consistently inspired and inventive... This CD will take a well deserved place alongside some of the classics of that (guitar/bass/drums) genre...."
- Curtis Davenport, Jazz Improv (01/07) ()
Achieving a fresh and distinctive voice with guitar trio is no easy task, but Steve Herberman, with Drew Gress and Mark Ferber, has done just that with the vibrant sounds on Action:Reaction.
-Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz (12/06)
"Warm, subtle, compelling...challenging harmonies and intellectual melodic lines...being musical on guitar is his prime directive ...very impressive. "
- George W. Carroll/The Musicians' Ombudsman (12/06)
This outstanding CD, with creative input from bassist Drew Gress and drummer Mark Ferber, will cause many guitarists to take a deep breath. On nine intriguing originals, Herberman smoothly blends melody and counterpoint along unpredictable pathways.
-Jill McManus, NJ Star Ledger (12/06)
Throughout this album, Steve Herberman checks positively on all of the benchmarks of a mainstream jazz guitarist: lyricism, chops and creativity.
- Michael Gladstone, All About Jazz (1/07)
"The compositions are first rate, the playing world class, and the interaction breathtaking."
- Matthew Warnock, Just Jazz Guitar (2/06)
"Wonderful playing, writing, production, solos. Great music!" -
Gary Husband (Allan Holdsworth Group)
"Herberman's propensity for following a melodic idea, or expanding a voicing, far beyond the written harmony brings to mind such giants as Bill Frisell and John Scofield."
-Guitar One magazine (02/07)
"Action:Reaction is a tribute to the spirit of modern jazz guitar."
- 20th Century Guitar magazine (2/07)
Reviews - Thoughtlines
"With a fluid, light touch, Herberman spins out ideas that hang together well... demonstrating solid harmonic and melodic sensibilities."
— Jim Ferguson, Jazz Times
"Herberman is known for his deft counterpoint..."
— Downbeat Magazine
"It's not difficult to understand why Thought Lines, Silver Spring-based guitarist Steve Herberman's new album, has drawn kind words from jazz guitar god Jim Hall or why at least one critic has suggested the disc merits favorable comparison with the exquisite jazz recordings made by the late guitarist Joe Pass. Airy, melodic and swinging, it's that good."
— Mike Joyce, The Washington Post
"Thought Lines presents Herberman as a guitarist with absolute command of his instrument."
— Don Williamson, Jazz review.com
(click here to read the entire review)
"Illuminating chord substitutions... tasteful solos... intelligent phrasing, articulation and dynamics... well constructed solos lyrically explore the instrumental range of the guitar"
— Winthrop Bedford, Jazz Improv magazine
"Thought Lines is a terrific CD... I enjoyed it a lot... the clarity and balance Steve gets with his right hand is amazing."
— Jim Hall
"Steve Herberman is one of the freshest new jazz voices on the scene today."
— Jimmy Bruno
"His talent has such an energetic flare, with his own voice, that he cannot help become a major force in jazz"
— Jude Hibler, 20th Century Guitar magazine
(Herberman has) impeccable phrasing... drop-dead gorgeous lines...
— Dave McElfresh, Goldmine
Irrespective of tempo, there's no strain and no contrivances, as inventive chordal structures played on top of string bass lines come out of the big [seven string] guitar with ease... Recommended.
— Dave Nathan, All Music Guide
"Highly recommended, Steve Herberman’s debut introduces a talented guitarist with great taste..."
— Jim Santella, All About Jazz (read entire review)
"Stellar playing... Great jazz guitar... [Thought Lines] is an excellent CD. "
— The Washington Post
"Rich improvised lines..."
— Cadence magazine
Vince Lewis, Just Jazz Guitar Magazine on Thought Lines:
A very impressive display of musicianship... A tightly knit group that responds collectively to each nuance of the music... Herberman's fingerstyle technique creates a rich sound, it evokes comparisons to Joe Pass.. [Herberman] shows a fine command of harmonic structure and concept... [Thought Lines] offers a nice mix of standards and original compositions and the wide variety of musical feels and tempos keeps the listener interested throughout... Herberman is a very high caliber player with an excellent tone. His sense of phrasing combines a traditional style with a contemporary sense of note selection to serve up music that is a pleasure to hear.
John Pisano, L.A. jazz guitarist/recording artist:
"I Wish I Knew" is really a fine arrangement. I love the spaceyness! Steve's original, "Thought Lines" is well constructed and musically satisfying. His approach and touch on "Laura", one of our favorites, is both lyrical and played with sensitivity. "Nobody Else But Me" really swings , great guitar solo. The whole CD is well produced and planned. Love the recorded sound of Steve's seven string. It has a great natural sound.
"Herberman zig-zags effortlessly through the idiosyncratic theme of 'Criss Cross' then expounds expertly revealing a keen awareness of Monk's compositional approach to improvisation."
— Adam Perlmutter, Guitar One magazine
"Herberman shows himself to be a wonderful player with a great touch, a first-rate interpreter, and a composer of originals that stick in your mind. He's extremely imaginative and plays with the fire that's needed. He's a stylist a la Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell and Wes Montgomery."
— John Heidt, Vintage Guitar magazine
"Thought Lines offers a varied mix of mood and approach, all tasteful and direct, and showcases Herberman's compositional gifts on four tracks. For me, one sure sign of writing talent is when I can't get an original melody out of my head. Weeks later, the intriguing title track is still in there, and I expect this CD will also remain in my player for a long time."
— Judith Schlesinger, All About Jazz
"Steve Herberman is a young guitarist well worth keeping an eye and an ear on. He has an excellent touch, is in deft control of his instrument and his playing always serves the song, never devolving into rote showing off. His excellent CD Thought Lines is an impressive and dramatic statement featuring excellent compositions, impressive, unobtrusive arrangements and great interplay between all the musicians particularly Herberman and saxophonist Bruce Swaim. I look forward to hearing more from him."
— Alan Paul, Guitar World magazine
"[Herberman] is a serious educator and gifted performer... [Thought Lines] is not a ho-hum assortment of standards, rather a collection of well-constructed improvisations to some gutsy and rarely performed jazz songs, along with satisfying originals that stand alone as quality compositions... He's an artist deserving wider recognition... an outstanding guitarist."
— Suzi Price, Jazz Review.com