All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

496

Will Bernard: Blue Plate Special

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
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 Peter Apfelbaum's pan-ethnic Hieroglyphics Ensemble led to his rise in prominence as a member of the high-profile late-Nineties guitar-slinging collective T.J. Kirk (with fellow guitarists Charlie Hunter and John Schott).



Accompanied by a stellar band, Bernard's quartet features three of today's most impressive jazz-funk virtuosos. Gov't Mule bassist Andy Hess and renowned Galactic drummer Stanton Moore are a tight and formidable rhythm section, able to navigate an endless variety of pneumatic beats and quick turnarounds with ease. A perfect foil for the leader, Medeski extracts a pungent vein of textures from his usual assortment of analog keyboards, conjuring distorted sheets of sound on the menacing "571" and scintillating tones on the surf-influenced "Gen Pop."



As comfortable churning out searing funk as he is waxing poetic on cinematic ballads, Bernard is an equally tasteful tunesmith. His infectious rhythms, catchy melodies and tight harmonies offer resilient structures for the quartet to expound upon. They stretch out, varying the dynamics while drifting briefly into outside territory without ever leaving formal constraints behind.



Dominated by ebullient jazz-funk, but encompassing a plethora of styles and genres, the tunes range from Hendrixian lyricism ("571"), psychedelic Afro-beat ("Blister") and reverb drenched exotica ("Gen Pop"), to carnivalesque ska ("Gonzo"), blistering soul-jazz ("Fast Fun") and Stax-inspired roadhouse blues ("Frontwinder").



A refreshing example of intelligent party music, Blue Plate Special is another document that reinforces Bernard's reputation as a talent deserving wider recognition. Fans of old school funksters like Medeski, Martin & Wood, Galactic and Zony Mash would be well advised to check this out.

Track Listing: Baby Goats; Magpie; Blue Plate Special; 571; Blister; Gen Pop; Awanna; Fast Fun; Frontwinder; Gonzo; How Great Thou Art.

Personnel: Will Bernard: guitar; John Medeski: Hammond organ, Wurlitzer organ, Wurlitzer electric piano, Moog Voyager, acoustic piano, Hohner clavinet; Andy Hess: bass; Stanton Moore: drums.

Title: Blue Plate Special | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Palmetto Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Crab Apple Red

Crab Apple Red

Will Bernard
Directions To My House

CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Out & About

Out & About

Posi-Tone Records
2016

buy
Just Like Downtown

Just Like Downtown

Posi-Tone Records
2014

buy
Just Like Downtown

Just Like Downtown

Posi-Tone Records
2013

buy
Outdoor Living

Outdoor Living

Dreck to Disk Records
2012

buy

Related Articles

Read Murals CD/LP/Track Review
Murals
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Cosmic Language CD/LP/Track Review
Cosmic Language
by Chris May
Published: May 20, 2018
Read More Songs About Error And Shame CD/LP/Track Review
More Songs About Error And Shame
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley CD/LP/Track Review
Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Earth CD/LP/Track Review
Earth
by Chris May
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Vegir CD/LP/Track Review
Vegir
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 19, 2018
Read "Trio Stonk: Live At Smalls" CD/LP/Track Review Trio Stonk: Live At Smalls
by David A. Orthmann
Published: November 4, 2017
Read "On The Radio: BBC Sessions 1971" CD/LP/Track Review On The Radio: BBC Sessions 1971
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 6, 2017
Read "Akua's Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 9, 2017
Read "Bullitt: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" CD/LP/Track Review Bullitt: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
by Chris May
Published: March 25, 2018
Read "Living Tribute" CD/LP/Track Review Living Tribute
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 27, 2017
Read "A Pouting Grimace" CD/LP/Track Review A Pouting Grimace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 15, 2017