Drumming Legend Mike Clark
& Bass Master Jeff Berlin
“Rhythm Section Magic”
What happens on stage between
World Class Drummer & Bassist
“He’s a great jazz drummer—and he hasn’t lost any of the stuff that he brought from Oakland. So now he’s totally free to do both, and he does. The solo he played on the album Thrust, on the song “Actual Proof,” is one of the best drum solos on any of my albums. So many people have remarked about that solo, saying, ‘Incredible.’” (quote by Herbie Hancock)
Mike gained worldwide recognition as one of America’s foremost jazz and funk drummers while playing with Herbie Hancock’s group in the early 1970’s. Mike became known as a major innovator through his incisive playing on Hancock’s Thrust album, which garnered him an international cult following.
While often referred to as the “Tony Williams of funk”, Mike considers himself a jazz drummer, and in fact has become one of the most vital to sit behind a set. He’s performed with jazz greats such as Herbie Hancock, Chet Baker, Vince Guaraldi, Tony Bennett, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Eddie Henderson, Rob Dixon, Bobby Hutcherson, Woody Shaw, Donald Harrison, Larry Coryell, Jack Wilkins, Mike Wolff, Wallace Roney, Geri Allen, Billy Childs, James Genus, Bob Hurst, Chris Potter, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau, Dave Liebman, Nat Adderly, Oscar Brown Jr., Bill Doggett, Nicholas Payton, Christian McBride, Mose Allison, Maxine Brown, Gil Evans and his orchestra and many illuminating etceteras too numerous to list.
Born in Sacramento, CA, while growing up Mike had the benefit of traveling around the country with his father, a union man for the railroad. He was also a drummer at one time and had a keen ear, a killing record collection, and a great appreciation for music. This allowed the younger Clark to soak up the diverse regional music of the United States, which he credits as providing an invaluable education. Clark was a prodigy as well, picking up his first sticks at the tender age of five and sitting in–and getting “house” –with bands in Texas and New Orleans when he was as young as 7 and 8.
He continued to play in a variety of blues, R&B, organ trios, and jazz bands, settling in Oakland, CA, until his introduction to Herbie Hancock and his recruitment into the Headhunters in 1973.
At the tail end of the 70‘s and in 1980, shortly before moving to New York City, Mike did a short but remarkable stint with Brand X, the acclaimed British fusion band founded by Phil Collins, doing two tours and recording their seminal Do They Hurt? and Product.
The winter of 2000 saw him diversifying his efforts with a foray into the popular jam band scene. His group Prescription Renewal electrified audiences across the country with an eclectic core of cross- generational multi talents, such as Charlie Hunter, Fred Wesley, Skerik, Robert Walter, and DJ Logic, and featured special guests such as George Porter Jr. of Funky Meters’ fame, Kyle Hollingsworth of String Cheese Incident, Les Claypool, Will Bernard, Larry Goldings and fellow Headhunters alumni, Bill Summers, and proved a hit on the thriving young jam band scene. He followed that with several successful tours of the Roots Funk All Stars, another hot ad hoc association that married Mike with James Brown trombonist Fred Wesley, former Headhunter cohort and funk bassist legend Paul Jackson, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Robben Ford.
Next to James Brown’s drummer Clyde Stubblefield, Mike’s beats with The Headhunters (most notably on “God Make Me Funky”) are some of the most sampled in hip hop. Featured in Downbeat, Musician, International Musician & Recording World, Modern Drummer, Jazz Times, Guitar Player, Jazz Is and numerous jazz history and method books, Mike is a former faculty member of Drummers Collective, and is a popular and busy clinician around the country. His book Funk Drumming: Innovative Grooves & Advanced Concepts was published last year by Hal Leonard and is a best seller.
His numerous recording credits include albums with Herbie Hancock, the Headhunters, Brand X, Eddie Henderson, Jack Wilkins, Mark Puricelli, Mike Wolff, and Alien Army, a group led by guitar great Jack Wilkins. As a bandleader, his release Give The Drummer Some was very enthusiastically received, earning a rare four and a half stars in Downbeat, as was The Funk Stops Here, a joint effort with Hancock alumni Paul Jackson. In 2001, his solo CD, Actual Proof met with critical acclaim, as did the 2003 acoustic jazz release, Summertime, featuring Chris Potter and Billy Childs, which spent many weeks in the top ten charts.
Other efforts included a compilation of his legendary, innovative funk beat samples, Mike Clark—The Headhunter, a re-release of the widely acclaimed Thrust album, and, in 1998, The Return Of The Headhunters, featuring Herbie Hancock. Next came Herbie Hancock’s Box Set, featuring Headhunters classics “Actual Proof” and “Butterfly,” from Thrust, a few choice cuts from Manchild, and also some historical tracks from the classic Flood, previously only available in Japan. The Headhunters’ newest effort, Evolution/Revolution, released in 2003, featured the latest Headhunter configuration, with original founding members Mike, Bill Summers and Paul Jackson, joined by Donald Harrison, Victor Atkins (Los Hombres Caliente), and Nicholas Payton.
His 2009 release Blueprints of Jazz, Vol. I produced by Talking House Productions, which featured Christian McBride, Donald Harrison, Patrice Rushen, Jed Levy and Christian Scott, was received with critical acclaim and named one of the best recordings of the decade by Downbeat.
His latest effort, Carnival of Soul released June 11th by Owl Records and climbing the charts, was described by the Indianapolis Star as “a jazz party with a kaleidoscopic array of players.” Those players include guest turns by renowned country blues singer Delbert McClinton, fellow drumming icon Lenny White, tenor player Rob Dixon, and three separate organ-based ensembles offering up some delicious soul-infused jazz.
A true original, Mike’s work continues to delight and astound his fans around the world.
has recorded and played with Eddie Van Halen, Yes, Frank Zappa, John McLaughlin, Bill Evans & many more.
Jeff is known as one of bass’ greatest innovators. His solos are amongst the greatest ever played on a bass guitar, and his harmonic and melodic approach to playing are legendary.
Jeff is a legend of the electric bass. Simply put, he is considered by many to be the finest electric bass player in the world. Noted for his fluid lyrical playing, he is also a pioneer of slap bass when he brought this percussive-style bass playing in 1979 to a new audience on the tune called 5G! Jeff also pioneered two handed tapping when he performed this style on the tune Motherlode from his 1985 release of his first solo album called “Champion.”.
Jeff is known as a major innovator through his incisive playing through recordings and performances for the last thirty years. Jaco Pastorius regarded Jeff as a better soloist than he was. Geddy Lee referred to Jeff as the “greatest bass player on the planet”. Marcus Miller told people that he wanted to be the “Black Jeff Berlin”.
The founder of The Players School of Music in Clearwater, Florida, Jeff has also been at the front of music education for almost 30 years. His column in Guitar Player and Bass Player magazines were the most read columns due to their controversial content emphasizing music education over more popular learning concepts aimed at technique-type instruction.
His numerous recording credits include six highly acclaimed solo records, Champion, Pump It!, Taking Notes, In Harmony’s Way, Lumpy Jazz and Aneurythms. Jeff tours with his band that has features ex. Pat Metheny drummers Danny Gottlieb and Paul Wertico, steel drummer Othello Molineaux, trumpet player Randy Brecker and pianist/bassist Richard Drexler. He also toured with BX3, a bass conglomeration that includes the great bass players Stuart Hamm and Billy Sheehan. In 2009 Jeff toured with guitarist John Abercrombie and drummer Adam Nussbaum. Jeff also played in Asia in an explosive trio with drummer Dennis Chambers, and guitarist Scott Henderson.
Many have said that they have never heard anyone play with Jeff’s melodic fluidity. He is making new fans all the time, while his playing continues to influence a new generation of bass players. His teaching continues to inspire and advance players wishing to know about the language of their art. Jeff Berlin is a Master.