Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Warren Bernhardt: Amelia’s Song

Warren Bernhardt’s eighth release for DMP, Amelia’s Song, is further proof that there ain’t no justice. Why, at 65, Bernhardt is still not a household name is unfathomable. This session, with Jay Anderson on acoustic bass and Peter Erskine on drums, is as good as it gets, musically and technically: no gobos, no headphones, no second takes, absolutely no boring moments. The longest track is the title tune, a Bernhardt original, which he hints was channeled through him by his maternal grandma, Amelia. (Long story, as tender as the tune.) Most of the rest are standards, revealing Bernhardt’s fertile harmonic thinking, typified by whole stretches of “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” where each separate note is supported by a reharmonized chord. “Boilermaker” and Wayne Shorter’s “E.S.P.” provide plenty of solo room for Erskine, but he shows better percussive skills on “Desafinado.” Fortunately, the amazing Anderson solos on every track. “Boilermaker” lists all three as composers. It seems to evolve freely from a G pedal into a medium-tempo funky swinger. On the whole, slow tempos dominate the session. Bernhardt’s lyrical side is his best, as in “Prelude to a Kiss,” but when the spirit moves him, as it does on “I Hear a Rhapsody,” he can overwhelm you with a torrent of single-note bop flurries.

Originally Published