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Party Hats

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Album Review

Guitarist Will Bernard continues to crank out the knotty and cerebral funk jams on 2007's Party Hats. Falling somewhere between the low-key '60s soul trio vibe of Medeski, Martin & Wood and the uptempo, fiery swagger of Maceo Parker, Party Hats is a soulful, good-time album that should please fans of both blues-oriented funk and post-bop improvisation. Joining Bernard here is a stellar backing ensemble of longtime cohorts, including tenor saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum, Hammond organist Wil Blades, drummers Jan Jackson and Paul Spina, and others. Interestingly, Bernard has struck a nice balance between tight James Brown-esque horn section moments and more open-ended improvisational moments. To these ends, tracks like the expansive and propulsive "Ripple Sole," the '70s-influenced blaxploitation slow burner "Chin Up," and the acid country-jazz of "Newbie" make for both obscenely funky background music and intellectually engaging jazz head trips. This CD was nominated for a Grammy award in 2007 for Best Contemporary Jazz Album.

Customer Reviews

More than just another jam

People who come to Will Bernard's album knowing him as a favorite of the jam scene will be surprised...because he is much more than just another jam musician. Bernard's playing demonstrates a grasp of jazz, gypsy, funk as well as rock melodies and his musical knowledge far exceeds that of a normal rock guitarist. This is a complex work from a complex artist which reveals more and more with each listening.

funky as Hell !!

when this wins the Grammy it will sell like crazy... but for now it's our little secret~

not bad

i saw will bernard play with the stanton moore trio. i was very unimpressed. his guitar playing was not at the playing level i thought it was. he's not a jazz guy. he's a meters/n.o. funk guitar player. this album has redeemed him in my eyes somewhat, but he still has a long way to go if he wants to fall into the jazz category. this is a jamband album, but has some cute heads


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...
Full Bio
Party Hats, Will Bernard
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Customer Ratings