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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Will Bernard: Just Like Downtown

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Guitarist Will Bernard has been connected to a number of singular groups and individuals, from the Monk-to-funk outfit known as T.J. Kirk to New Orleans drumming giant Stanton Moore to multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum's boundary-pushing Hieroglyphics Ensemble, but a common denominator exists in his strongest work with each one: Bernard's best is always rooted in the groove. He has an no-fuss way of establishing and/or inhabiting the rhythmic currents of a song and he puts that skill to good use, once again, on Just Like Downtown. This quartet date finds Bernard fronting a highly capable--and flexible--foursome. Together, they ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Will Bernard Trio: Outdoor Living

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As if capturing the Will Bernard Trio caught up in a rush of inspiration, both the initial and concluding pairs of tracks on Outdoor Living are sequenced together without breaks between. It's an appropriate production touch for an album on which the participants are clearly feeding on each others' ideas and building on the individual and collective talent on hand. The initial segue to “Morgan Deux" from “Nature Walk" is a springboard for the musicians and listeners alike to become caught up in the spirit of the moment, while “Implitude" completes the album with a flourish as it follows “Katskan."

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Will Bernard: Blue Plate Special & Night for Day

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Will BernardBlue Plate SpecialPalmetto2008 Bernard/Emer/Lackner/FerberNight for DayBrooklyn Jazz Underground Records2008 Guitarist Will Bernard is the common denominator on these two stylistically divergent CDs. On Blue Plate Special he's joined by keyboardist John Medeski, bassist Andy Hess and drummer Stanton Moore while Night for Day is with fellow Brooklyn Jazz Underground members Benny Lackner (piano), Andrew Emer (bass) and Mark Ferber (drums). The former is a groove-heavy, funky hoe-down while the latter explores more evanescent ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Will Bernard: Blue Plate Special

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Will Bernard's Blue Plate Special features a veritable supergroup of modern jazz, whose diverse talents on their respective instruments complements their collective experience and, perhaps more importantly, the range of material supplied by the bandleader. On paper, it looks too good to work, but work it does and splendidly at that.

“Baby Goats" may sound, at first, like a vintage variation on composer John Medeski's work with Medeski, Martin and Wood, but as Stanton Moore's syncopation deepens and Andy Hess' circular bass pattern widens, it becomes ever easier to hear the natural empathy within this lineup. And this ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Will Bernard: Blue Plate Special

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Blue Plate Special is San Francisco Bay Area guitarist Will Bernard's fifth release as a leader and his second for Palmetto Records, following the star-studded groove-fest, Party Hats (2007). Dispensing with the additional horns and guest instrumentalists of previous releases, this session features Bernard as the leader of a stripped-down quartet. The relatively spare setting allows greater focus on his highly rhythmic approach to the guitar, with an emphasis on the empathetic interplay with his principle sideman, keyboardist John Medeski. An eclectic and adventurous artist, Bernard's early career established his wide-ranging aesthetic. His seminal late-Eighties membership in saxophonist ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Will Bernard Trio: Directions to My House

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Thanks to artists like Bill Frisell and Nels Cline, the definition of jazz guitar has broadened so far that heated discussions are a regular occurrence, on and off the web. Certainly if an album like Frisell's Nashville can win the Downbeat critic's poll for best jazz album, we're witnessing a significant shift that allows for considerably more latitude than ever before.

On the other hand, if you were to ask these artists if what they play is jazz, they'd likely answer your question with another one: “Why does it matter? And truth be told, they'd be right. Still, wide-reaching artists ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Will Bernard 4-tet: Medicine Hat

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On Medicine Hat, their first release, the Will Bernard 4-tet came to groove. The disc kicks off with “Close Shave (Pt. 1)," a James Brown inspired romp that introduces these fine San Francisco-based players. Will Bernard is a hot guitarist who was heard with T. J. Kirk, which included the now well-known Charlie Hunter and drummer Scott Amendola, also heard here laying down his rock solid rhythms with typical finesse. The 4-tet is rounded out with newcomers Rob Burger on Hammond B-3 organ and John Shifflett on bass.

The second track, “Boomtown", sounds like a spicy recipe for chasing away ...



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