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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 the mid-winter blues. The guitar / organ-fueled jams are inspired and fun. But this isn’t just about partying. The compositions, all by Bernard, are interesting as well as danceable. The twisted tango groove of "Trap Door Spider" is enticing and the 4-tet ventures into Bill Frisell-ish territory on "Nobody’s Looking". Bernard and Burger switch to acoustic guitar and accordion for this beautifully moody track.
"Tank Top" turns the tables again with a funky New Orleans groove, one of Scott Amendola’s specialties. Bernard lays down some smokin’ slide guitar on this cooker. "Pollyanna" features some wonderfully slippery guitar improvisations and they take us home with "Do Not Bend", a final funk excursion.
Recommended to fans of guitar, organ, and fat, funky grooves.
Track Listing: Close Shave; Boomtown; Medicine Hat; Prankster; 3-Ply; Koko a Poko; Trap Door Spider; Nobody
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.