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Album Review

Although it is not noted on the outside cover and is even difficult to discern from the inside liner notes, this is a live recording of the short-lived group, caught at a show at an unnamed venue in 1997. Regardless of the rather mysterious nature of the disc, it's a terrific representation of the foursome's phenomenal instrumental chops. The triple guitar/drums lineup cherry-picks tracks from their studio albums, both of which are out of print as of this disc's appearance in early 2004. Hence, it's the only way to hear this adventurous quartet deconstruct/reconstruct and mix and match the funk, jazz, and avant-garde qualities of the music of James Brown, Thelonious Monk, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Although Charlie Hunter's signature quivering eight-string guitar/bass acrobatics remain the group's signature sound, guitarists Will Bernard and John Schott along with drummer Scott Amendola are more than just backup musicians. They provide breathtaking support as tempos radically change from straight-ahead jazz to frisky funk, as on Monk's tricky "Skippy." Jaw-droppingly tight playing on the set-closing "Meeting at Termini's Corner/I Got a Bag of My Own/Brilliant Corners," which combines riffs from all three of the group's sources, keeps the music captivating and lively even if you are unfamiliar with the originals. The live recording not only catches T.J. Kirk on a superb night at the height of their powers — and just before they disbanded — but provides a fitting legacy for one of the '90s more neglected fusion bands.

Biography

Born: Berkeley, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

An expansive guitarist with a bent toward funk and avant-garde jazz, Will Bernard first came to prominence as a member of Peter Apfelbaum's world music and jazz-oriented Hieroglyphics Ensemble in the late '80s. Although Bernard has continued to record with Apfelbaum, the ever-reaching guitarist has also found himself working with artists from a variety of genres, including the hip-hop group the Coup, New Orleans funkster drummer Stanton Moore, and world/new age bandleader Jai Uttal. On his...
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Talking Only Makes It Worse, Will Bernard
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