Chicago is one of those unique cities that has always been on the pulse of vangard change in popular music. Although the city is known most for its blues , Chicago has also played a leading role in the performance, recording, and artistic evolution of jazz. The BMR4 (Bernhardt, Moynihan, Rodbard quartet), veterans of the Chicago music scene, have proved to be quite adaptable in creating noteworthy musical mixtures of all idioms. You can hear in their jazz sound, flourishes of the city's blues, rock and R&B scenes.

As legendary guitarist Robert Johnson put it, Chicago has been a "sweet home" for the blues. As the most recognizable cultural signature that the city has produced, its rich sense of origin and history still shapes music and social practice throughout the Windy City. Chris Bernhardt, Jay Moynihan, and Mike Rodbard had their musical baptism in the blues-roots rock band The Buzz. Although the group made two recordings, sold over 10,000 recordings, and toured the country, these musicians' chops developed significantly while playing as the house band at Buddy Guys Legends. It was there that they backed up legends such as Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, and Otis Rush. Through the many gigs and tours, the band found out they had a mutual affinity for jazz, and missed playing the music they grew up on. They formed BMR4, found a regular engagement, and began to develop their sound.

But The BMR4 needed a guitarist. Neal Alger had known Chris Bernhardt for years growing up together in the same south suburb neighborhood. Performing or recording with Lin Haliday, Howard Levy, Grazyna Augusich, and Ed Thigpen, Alger, due to his lyrical soloing and accompanying , had become one of Chicago's greatest and most in demand guitarists. The group soon recorded a standards demo and set out to get some work.

Success came fast for the BMR4, which was unusual for its groups member who had spent years "paying their dues". It helped that the bands' live show is an energetic,vigorous experience, in which the repertoire leaps around from 60's modal jazz, standards, modern R&B, 12 bar blues, to unique interpretations of pop classics. They soon began playing major venues in the Chicagoland area. Success also came to the groups members with Alger, Moynihan, and Rodbard being picked up for the bands of Patrica Barber, Buddy Guy, and Lonnie Brooks respectively. In the spring of 2006 the band signed with Hallway Records.

Read more


", urban-cool harmonies..., oceanic repertoire..., first and foremost a superb showcase..." --Neil Tesser, Chicago Reader review and Author Playboys Guide To Jazz

"The CD is terrific... the band is tight and the production first-class." --Rick O'Dell, Music Director, WNUA


Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Turning Point

Hallway Records



Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.