Guitarist and composer Peter Bernstein is one of the most identifiable voices in jazz guitar in the last 20 years. Noted for his work with stellar musicians such as Sonny Rollins, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Lou Donaldson, Jimmy Cobb, Larry Goldings and Brad Mehldau, Peter’s melodic improvisations and distinct harmonic sense are now influencing many budding guitarists on the scene today.
While maintaining a full schedule as a traveling musician and master clinician, you can still catch Peter often in his home base of NYC. Most recently, a new recording, “Let Loose,” was released on Smoke Sessions Records featuring a balance of thoughtful arrangements of standards and bright new original compositions.
We caught up with Peter on the busy streets of NYC to chat about the new CD, his origins as a player, the long-standing relationship of his trio with Larry Goldings and Bill Stewart and what it takes to stay artistically productive as an itinerant artist. Enjoy our chat with Peter Bernstein.
As one of the most prolific pianists today, Orrin Evans remains constant in his documentation of his growth and musical wisdom. His latest CD, “The Evolution of Oneself” places him in a premier trio context with drummer Kareem Riggins and bassist Christian McBride. The music swings, grooves and floats but always with a pulse. This album further captivates with a few surprises. Evans’ youngest son produces a very captivating three-part interlude, “Genesis,” that is broken up over the course of the CD, while the surprising appearance of the Americana tune, “Wildwood Flower,” and Grover Washington Jr.’s, “A Secret Place” further demonstrates Evans’ ability to consistently shine through among the diversity of material and influences.
Pianist Harold Mabern is one of the true treasures of improvisational music. Born in Memphis, Tennessee and self taught as a pianist, he and his peers (George Coleman, Frank Strozier, Booker Little) developed rapidly. As he discusses in our chat, Mr. Mabern’s move to the city of Chicago after high school graduation further enhanced his pedigree. As the pianist for the MJT +3, his harmonic and rhythmic ideas were the ideal compliment to Walter Perkins and Bob Cranshaw. In this interview, Mabern speaks about these beginnings and his move to New York where he has remained a first call pianist for the last 50 years holding the piano chair with fellow luminaries such as Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, J.J. Johnson, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and George Coleman. He began recording as a leader for Prestige Records in 1968, and his newest recording, “Afro Blue,” on the Smoke Sessions Label pairs his group with all-star vocalists Gregory Porter, Alexis Cole, Kurt Elling, Norah Jones and Jane Monheit. This CD promises to be a unique addition to his body of work and will help to further introduce him to a greater addition of listeners. Play on, Mr. Mabern!