“…one of the most potent, if under recognized, 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
A Berkeley, CA native and recent Brooklyn transplant, guitarist Will Bernard began playing and recording on an international level as a member of Peter Apfelbaum's Hieroglyphics Ensemble, who made their recorded debut with Don Cherry on MULTIKUTI (A&M 1989). Since then Will has participated in a host of boundary stretching groups, ranging from jazz, hip hop and world music to experimental music, with many stops in between. In the 90s Will recorded and performed with many projects under the direction of acclaimed producer Lee Townsend and worked with groups ranging from the Hindustani-influenced Jai Uttal to the political hip-hop group the Coup. The most successful of these projects was the group T.J. Kirk (with Charlie Hunter) whose sophomore album IF FOUR WAS ONE was nominated for a Grammy in 1997.
Will broke out as a bandleader in 1998 with the release of MEDICINE HAT (Antilles/Polygram), showcasing his expert chops and flair for funky, bottomheavy soul-jazz. He then followed up with two self produced albums on his own label, Dreck to Disk, before finding a new home on Palmetto Records. Will’s debut recording for Palmetto Records, PARTY HATS, was released > February 20, 2007. Matt Balitsaris, President of Palmetto Records, welcomed 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." PARTY HATS was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2008 for best contemporary jazz album.
BLUE PLATE SPECIAL, Will's follow-up Palmetto recording, includes performances by Stanton Moore, Andy Hess and John Medeski. The album is scheduled for release on September 30th 2008, rounding out a prolific and momentous year for Will Bernard. As a player and composer, Will contributed to Bernard-Emer-Lackner-Ferber whose recording NIGHT FOR DAY helped to launch artist-run label Brooklyn Jazz Underground in April 2008. Following that, ROCKAMOVYA, comprised of Bernard, members of Groundation and reggae legend Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace, was released in June 2008 on Young Tree. Will also toured extensively supporting PARTY HATS and the Stanton Moore Trio's second Telarc release EMPHASIS ON PARENTHESIS.
As a touring artist, Will Bernard has been gaining steady momentum, performing in his own band or as a member of the Stanton Moore Trio, Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, Groundation, and numerous other lineups. 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.
What the Critics Have Said:
“....Bernard cruise(s) with the mercurial flow of Steve Cropper (Booker T & The MG’s) and obvious ancestor Grant Green. But, there’s more razor sharp teeth inside his bite than these touchstones.”– Dennis Cook, Jambase
“He’s probably the most versatile guitar player I’ve ever worked with…He’s just killing” – Stanton Moore
“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 genrebusting aesthetic”– John Kelman, All about Jazz
" Bernard deserves higher recognition as one of jazz’s harest working and most gifted guitarists”– 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