Criss Cross Jazz
This guitarist swings mightily and has incredible technique, but it's his lyrical approach-a kind of cross between Grant Green and Jim Hall-that sets him apart from the pack. Here, he puts his quintet through its paces over the course of a diverse set that primarily focuses on original compositions.
With Larry Goldings tastefully pumping organ and Billy Drummond laying down time, "Brain Dance" finds Bernstein grooving articulately, using his technique not as an end in itself, but as a means for realizing his highly musical lines. A lithe jazz waltz, "While We're Young" provides a perfect vehicle for his characteristic melodicism, while "Dual Nature" cruises along at a medium clip and includes ensemble passages that are beautifully harmonized by tenor man Eric Alexander and trombonist Steve Davis. "Danger Zone," a funky Percy Mayfield 16-bar blues, closes the program and gives the guitarist a chance to get down and dirty in his own way, putting his original approach and ideas above stock cliches. Barely into his thirties and already one of the finest up and coming guitarists around, Bernstein offers what promises to be only a glimpse of his potential as a composer and instrumentalist.