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Will Bernard and Motherbug

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Album Review

Like Galactic, and Medeski, Martin and Wood, Will Bernard and Motherbug is a tough, contemporary jazz-funk project, but it goes way further. If anything, Bernard would have been right at home playing guitar with Jaco Pastorius because this is punk jazz if it ever existed: huge, knotty grooves, rippling, taut basslines, fat under-the-beat keyboard lines, and Bernard's guitar alternately cutting in and soaring over the mix. Bernard is one of the most rhythm-conscious soloists on the instrument. And he will, as is evidenced here over and again, milk a groove to death — until it comes out on the other side and is resurrected — somehow transmuted — into something else entirely. The band is a four-piece: Bernard on guitars of all kinds, Michael Bluestein on Hammond B3 and Farfisa, Jan Jackson on drums, and bassist Keith McArthur all lay down one series of greasy, monumentally edgy riffs after another — "100 Cha Chas," and "Mung Beans And Rice," are but two examples. On both of these cuts, multiple genres — from surf to funk to post-bop jazz to New Orleans second line funk — all turn one another over in the pit, and come out baked and oozing. This set is one non-stop slip-and-shimmy bash of deep rhythms, wildly innovative guitar playing, and groove-conscious communication that sounds as ass-kicking in the studio as it does on the bandstand.


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 own, Bernard...
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Will Bernard and Motherbug, Will Bernard
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