Out and About is a stylistic hopscotch in which guitarist-composer Will Bernard flexes the talents of his four cohorts, in ensemble interplay ranging from duo to quintet. The record takes its cue from a typically incisive Mark Twain quote: “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the Earth all one’s lifetime.”
The 11 Bernard originals performed here are all invested with “broad, wholesome, charitable views.” Indeed, it’s about the only thing they have in common. The opener, “Happy Belated,” sports the sort of funky fusion (seasoned with wah-wah effects) typical of previous Bernard outings. But then the guitarist engages in a short-and-sweet duet with bassist Ben Allison, aptly titled “Not Too Fancy.” On “Habenera,” with drummer Allison Miller and organist Brian Charette added to the mix, he tumbles through a lengthy quartet workout full of abrupt shifts in tempo and intensity, at one point recalling Mick Taylor’s buffered solos for the Rolling Stones. “Redwood (business casual)” follows a hard-bop template-a series of fleet, efficient solos-with saxophonist John Ellis filling out the quintet.