Here’s more of Flim & the BB’s performing more of their smooth grooves on K-TWIN’s “Some Call It Jazz” series captured at the World Theater in St. Paul, MN. Jimmy “Flim” Johnson, Billy Barber, Bill Berg & Dick Oatts perform some excellent solos in this piece from their “Big Notes” CD. Directed by Gregg Kubera and switched by, Larry Hutchinson “Hutch”.
Flim & The BB’s – Tricycle
One of the most popular fusion and light jazz groups to emerge during the 1980s, Flim and the BB’s comprised bassist Jimmy Johnson, keyboardist Billy Barber, percussionist Billy Berg and reeds player Dick Oatts. (For the record, “Flim” was an old nickname of Johnson’s, while “the BB’s” originated from Barber and Berg’s shared initials).
Debuting in 1982 with the album Tricycle, Flim and the BB’s’ fusion sound proved ideally suited for the onset of the compact disc boom; they were among the first artists to record utilizing digital technology, and albums like 1985’s Big Notes and 1987’s Neon quickly found a following not only among contemporary jazz fans but also among tech-heads. After 1988’s Further Adventures, the quartet departed indie label DMP for Warner Bros., making their major-label debut a year later with New Pants. 1992’s This Is a Recording was their final effort.
Their early days in the late 1970s included individual studio work in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area and occasionally playing together as a band at the Longhorn Bar. Through their work as studio musicians they became acquainted with Tom Jung, chief engineer at Sound 80 Studios in Minneapolis. It was around this time that Minneapolis-based 3M began experimenting with digital sound recording, and Flim and The BB’s were hired to provide music to test this new equipment at Tom’s studio.
Their self-titled debut album (LP only) was recorded mid-1978 at Sound 80, intended to a direct-to-disc project with the experimental 50.4 KHz 3M digital recorder running as a backup. When the resulting acetate was deemed not as good as the digital master, the record was pressed from that digital backup tape, making it the second-ever commercially available digital recording. Since the machine used was an early prototype — built before any digital recording standards were established — and dismantled before 1979 — there is currently no way to re-issue that first album on either LP or CD.