Admittedly, it might seem a bit of a leap to segue from from sportscaster to soul singer. Or not. Jim's dropped a few hints from time to time, via an occasional on-air rap or a subtle dance move. Likewise, he's long espoused the joys of "Chicago Style Steppin'," a soulful couples dance. ("It's like Black ballroom dancing...very smooth but with a funkier edge.") Yet, it wasn't until a few months ago that Jim began sharing his musical ambitions, picking my brain for ideas on how to get his music into the marketplace and actually start performing. I caught him in concert at a jazz club on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami several weeks ago, and I was surprised how easily he was able to transition from screen to stage while engaging his audience during his show. He sings with a smooth croon, culling old soul staples, classic blues and an array of popular standards. That's to be expected given influences that run from James Brown and Marvin Gaye to Joe Williams and Sam Cooke. What's more, he has a crack combo in tow -- Charles Anderson (background vocals), Ted Studstill (guitar), Ulysses Taylor (keyboards), Lucius Carter (bass) and Terry Smith (drums).
It was clear from the performance that I saw that Jim's been honing his craft and taking his new calling seriously. So seriously in fact, that this past summer, he spent a week at the Tritone Jazz camp in Rochester, New York. One of three vocalists in attendance, he was given the opportunity to work with a disparate group of jazz musicians as part of his preparation for a final showcase concert. "It was tremendous," he says of the experience. "It helped me as a vocalist and to really think like a musician. It actually inspired me to start performing here in South Florida."
Being that it's important to know where one's been before one ventures forward, I asked Jim to share a list of his five favorite albums. Like the man himself, it's pretty classy:
5. James Brown -- The Big Payback
: "It's soulful, funky and maybe his best album of all-time!"
4. Main Ingredient -- Afrodisiac: "This album is filled with awesome ballads. In fact, there's not a bad song on the entire record."
3. Dee Dee Bridgewater -- Just Family: "Dee Dee Bridgewater is one of the most under-rated singers of our time and she really puts it down with his album."
2. Temptations -- Puzzle People: "This was a groundbreaking R & B album, loaded with powerful songs."
1. Prince -- Purple Rain: "What can I say? It's the best of his best."
Jim Berry and the Platinum band will perform on December 23rd at Harvey's on the Bay, 6445 N.E. 7th Avenue, Miami. Doors open at 9 PM. There is a $10 cover. Phone 786-728-6702
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