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Randy Bernsen: Grace Notes

Geannine Reid By

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Grace Notes is a tasteful album, chalked full of fresh, creative compositions by guitarist Randy Bernsen. If you like the Rippingtons, Weather Report or the Yellowjackets, you will love this CD, too! As a composer and player, Bernsen possesses a unique creative vibe that does combine a wonderful "grace" that you can hear in every note he plays or writes. His cool, yet extraordinary talent is augmented by an all-star cast including: Yellowjackets co-founders Jimmy Haslip and Russell Ferrante, drummers Peter Erskine, Gary Novak and Virgil Donati, keyboardist Scott Kinsey, Mac Chew and Colin James, saxophonist Steve Tavaglione, percussionists Luis Conte, Archie Pena, blues harmonica ace Rockin' Jake Band and Julius Pastorius (Jaco's son). Grace Notes is co-produced by Haslip, Grace Notes travels through many different musical elements. Bernsen is always melodic and interesting; regardless if he is writing lines and arrangements with a soul-jazz, bluesy or rippin' on a second line feel, his note choices and delivery is always simply beautiful. Even though the members on the project shuffle around, each selection always finds a spirit of great pleasure by the players that comes across to the listener.

Highlights are many, but my favorites are "Red Clay," an excellent arrangement and Bernsen's guitar solo is a first-rate study in taste and development. "Indian Rivers" has a wonderful uplifting feel and melody that is supported by Haslip's incredibly rock solid bass sounds, combined with the rhythmic colors and feel of Erskine's drums. Bernsen's solo is a perfect balance of consonance and dissonance, truly a master of tension and release within his musical phrases. Lenon and McCartney's "She's A Woman" is a pleasant surprise and fits in well with the projects character and flow. Again, Bernsen's playing is just top-shelf with just the right amount of "twang," a few phrases even reminded me of the late great Danny Gatton; excellent playing.

This is an unexpected collection of tunes and the playing is going to have you enjoying this great album for hours and years to come, thanks to Bernsen for adding the "grace," to these notes, both as a guitarist, composer and arranger!

Track Listing: Black Top; Red Clay; Grace; Indian Rivers; She’s a Woman; Blues Traveler; Freddie’s Conversion; Malibu Man.

Personnel: Randy Bernsen: guitar and guitar synths; Jimmy Haslip: bass (tracks 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8); Trey Henry: acoustic bass (track 2); Peter Erskine: drums (tracks 2, 8); Gary Novak: drums (tracks 1, 7); Virgil Donati: drums (track 3); Julius Pastorius: drums (track 3); Russell Ferrante: piano and synths (track 1); Steve Tavaglione: saxophone and synth horns (track 2 and 4 ); Max Boiko: trumpet (track 2 and 6); Luis Conte: percussion (track 2, 4, 5); Colin James -rhodes and piano (tracks 6, 7); Scott Kinsey: organ and rhodes (track 3, 4, 7, 8); Mac Chew: synths (track 3 and 7); Archie Pena -Percusion (track 5); Rockin’ Jake: harmonica (track 5); Torin Lawson: DJ (track 7); Robert Thomas, Jr.: hand drums (track 8).

Title: Grace Notes | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Jerico Jams

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CD/LP/Track Review
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