Flim & the BB's
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"Flim & The BB's" was a contemporary jazz band that became popular not only to jazz fans but also "tech-heads" (people who are fond of technology) because of the methods and type of equipment and technology that went into their recordings. Some of the equipment used included the Mitsubishi X-80 digital audio recorder, the Cello Audio Palette, and other esoteric gear.
The group consisted of Jimmy "Flim" Johnson (bass), Bill Berg (percussion), & Billy Barber (piano, keyboard, synthesizer). Dick Oatts (woodwinds) was listed as "featuring" on their first album. The name of the group came from Jimmy Johnson's nickname "Flim" and the initials of the other two original members. The band was a "side project" of sorts for all of them as they were each freelance studio musicians who played live with various groups.
Their early days in the late 1970s included individual studio work in Minneapolis, Minnesota and occasionally playing as a band at the Longhorn Bar. It was around this time that 3M began experimenting with digital sound recording and this group was hired to provide music to test this new equipment. Their self-titled first album was released by Sound 80 studios in 1978. It was recorded as a direct-to-disc project with the 3M digital recorder running as a backup. When the acetate was deemed unusable the record was remastered from that digital backup, possibly a first use of that source. Since the machine used was an early prototype built before any digital recording standards were established, and then was subsequently dismantled, there is currently no way to re-issue that first album.
Through their work as studio musicians they became friends with Tom Jung, then chief engineer at Sound 80 studios. He engineered their first album and also produced their five following albums for DMP Records, an independent "audiophile" record label he formed after relocating to Connecticut. Their second album "Tricycle" was the first non-classical recording to be released on the then new compact disc format. The cover art for "Tricycle" was drawn by Bill Berg's son Jacob. It was also one of the first jazz albums to be recorded, mastered and delivered completely in the digital domain. The entire recording chain after the first few feet of microphone cable from the musicians' instruments remained in the digital domain until it was decoded by the consumer's CD player. DMP's releases were for the most part recorded directly to two-tracks as opposed to the more common multi-track method. This means that there was minimal use of overdubs and the majority of the music was performed, recorded and mixed "live" to the recorder.
They went on to release four more albums for DMP Digital Music Products all to critical acclaim - each winning Digital Audio's "Jazz CD of the Year" award. After the release of their album "The Further Adventures of Flim & The BB's" they parted ways with DMP Records and signed to Warner Bros. Records. They released their album "New Pants" in 1990 and followed with "This Is A Recording" in 1992. After that they were unceremoniously dropped from the label at which point the group broke up.
DMP Records released two of their albums "Tricycle" and "Big Notes" on a limited edition gold plated disc. These copies are 20-bit remasters and were generally considered[by whom?] to be of a higher fidelity than the original releases, already considered "audiophile" material. Also released by DMP was a compilation album "Vintage BB's". The recognizable elements of this band include Billy Barber's compositions and synthesizer sounds, Jimmy Johnson's Alembic 5-string bass guitar, Dick Oatts' sax and flute playing, and Bill Berg's drum and percussion work. Billy Barber composed the original theme for "All My Children" (a version of the song appears on their album "This Is A Recording") and continues to do original music for radio, TV and commercials. Jimmy "Flim" Johnson is a freelance studio musician based in Los Angeles. Dick Oatts is currently Artistic Director of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (formerly the Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchestra) as well as playing with several other groups. Bill Berg has retired from Disney Animation and plays drums in various jazz groups around the Los Angeles area.
- Flim & the BB's (1978)
- Tricycle (1983)
- Tunnel (1984)
- Big Notes (1985)
- Neon (1987)
- The Further Adventures of Flim & the BB's (1988)
- New Pants (1990)
- Vintage BB's (best of) (1992)
- This Is A Recording (1992)
- Tricycle (Super Audio CD reissue) (1999)
- Ankeny, Jason. "Flim & The BB's: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
- Liner notes from Tricycle, dmp CD-443
- Liner notes from Tricycle, dmp CD-443