Primary Instrument: Guitar, electric
A long time San Francisco Bay Area musician, guitarist/composer Will Bernard first began playing and recording on an international level as a member of Peter Apfelbaum's Hieroglyphics Ensemble, whose first recording was on Don Cherry's MultiKulti (A&M 1989). Since then he has been involved with a host of boundary stretching groups, ranging from jazz, hip hop and world music to experimental music, with many stops in between. He has performed and recorded with Jai Uttal and the Pagan Love Orchestra, Peter Apfelbaum's various band incarnations, Beth Custer, The Coup, and Midnight Voices to name a few. The most successful of these projects was the group T.J. Kirk (with Charlie Hunter) whose 2nd record for Warner Bros. If Four Was One was nominated for a Grammy in 1997.
Will released his debut CD as a leader, Medicine Hat; in 1998. Since then Will has self produced two albums Will Bernard and Motherbug 2001 and Will Bernard Trio Directions to my House 2005 both on his own label Dreck to Disk Records.
The Will Bernard band has performed at The Monterey, North Sea, SF Jazz, Bumbershoot, Be-Bop and Brew, Montreal, Vancouver and The High Sierra festivals, as well as clubs across the country and through Canada. They have opened for Herbie Hancock and the Head Hunters, Jimmy McGriff, The Funky Meters, John Scofield, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Ziggy Modeliste and the Charlie Hunter Quartet.
More recently Will has been developing his musical associations and has been working with a range of musicians that include Robert Walter, Stanton Moore, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Idris Muhammad, Adam Deitch, Zigaboo Modeliste, and John Medeski. Between 2002 and 2005 he toured extensively in the US with Robert Walter's 20th congress.
As MG5 (formerly Frequinox) bandmate Stanton Moore said of Will (in the San Francisco Chronicle): He's one of the greatest musicians I've come into contact with. And Robert Walter says: He's probably the most versatile guitar player I've ever worked with. Anywhere we try to go, he can cover that area better than anyone.
In the last few years Will Bernard's visibility on the jam scene has been increasing dramatically. Aside from continuously traversing the U.S. with his band Motherbug or as a member of Robert Walter's 20th Congress, he has been seen frequently on stage as a guest in all kinds of situations. Along with his appearance with the Trey Anastasio Band at Mountain Air in California for which he was awarded a spot on the annual Jambase Sit-in Top Ten, he has been seen with Karl Denson, Garage a Trois, Galactic, Charlie Hunter band, Garaj Mahal, Mike Clark's Prescription Renewal, Living Daylights, Jacob Fred, Sex Mob, and Papa Grows Funk. Will has also appeared with the allstar band Frequinox, along with Robert Walter, Stanton Moore, Donald Harrison and Robert Mercurio. Ever hungry for contrast, Will performed in the Bay Area with the popular French acoustic band, The Baguette Quartette and the reggae phenomenom Groundation. In 2004, Will was again nominated for best guitarist in the California Music Awards, and his debut recording for Palmetto Records, PARTY HATS, was made available in stores on February 20, 2007. Matt Balitsaris, President of Palmetto Records, welcomes Will: We're psyched to have Will Bernard in the Palmetto family. He's a soulful player who writes groovy tunes with a distinctive point of view. PARTY HATS wants to live in your car. Will comments: I like being on a small label that cares about music for its aesthetic value and I think it's a perfect fit for me in this stage of the game.
Funky from start to finish and recorded over three years, PARTY HATS features more or less two rhythm sections including: Will Bernard, guitar; Will Blades, organ; Ryan Newman, bass; Keith McArthur, bass; Jan Jackson, drums; Paul Spina, drums; Josh Jones, percussion; Michael Bluestein, organ and electric piano; and a number of horn players including: Cochemea Gastelum, alto sax; Joe Cohen, sax; Peter Apfelbaum, tenor sax, qarcabas, melodica; Dave Ellis, sax; Mike Olmos, trumpet; and Adam Theis, trombone. PARTY HATS was nominated for a Grammy Award for best contemporary jazz album.
Will's next recording for Palmetto, due for release in the summer of 2008, will include performances by Stanton Moore and John Medeski. Will is also featured on Stanton Moore's last Telarc recording and on his forthcoming release and has toured extensively in Stanton's trio.
“Will Bernard's Directions to My House comes as nothing less than a revelation”
- Eric Snyder, Tampa Weekly Planet
“…a player who clearly deserves a wider audience for his imaginative genre-busting aesthetic”.
- John Kelman, All about Jazz
“…one of the most potent, if underrecognized, guitarists on the post-Frisell/post-Scofield scene.”
- Bill Milkowski, Jazz Times
Will Bernard is one of the best-kept jazz-guitar secrets on the planet.
- Dan Ouellette, Billboard
Hanging out with some of Bernard's [songs] is like stepping into a Coen Brothers movie, an Elmore Leonard novel, or any other alternate reality peopled by unforgettable freaks.
- Joe Gore, Guitar Player
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Tracks: Share the Sea; White Elephant Sale; Ripple Sole; Leo's Cat; Party Hats; Afro Sheen; Chin Up; Newbie; Folding Green; Battle Trap; Penske.
Will Bernard Trio
Directions to my House
Dreck to Disk
Tracks: Not Necessarily Stoned; Crab Apple Red; Koto; Riddle Me This; What's Left; Parental Guidance; Directions To My House; Hall of Science; Wide Awake; Agro Business; Two Hot Dogs & A Strawberry Soda.
Will Bernard and Motherbug
Dreck to Disk
Tracks: Motherbug Theme; 100 Cha Chas; Sultan; Pursuit of Happiness; Mung Beans and Rice; Rounders; Motherbone; Baldy Wonderland; Adjust the Facts; Lady Chompers.
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