Will Bernard – Out & About – Posi-Tone

Will Bernard – Out & About – Posi-Tone PR 8148, 48:33 ***:

A well-intentioned outing, but better luck next time.

(Will Bernard – guitar; John Ellis – saxophone; Brian Charette – organ; Ben Allison – bass; Allison Miller – drums)

Out And About or (Oot And Aboot) as we Canadians might say, is the latest release from guitarist Will Bernard. While by no means a household name, Bernard is nevertheless an accomplished musician with a funky elliptical style that is at the same time edgy, yet thoughtful.

The session that has been put together by Bernard, is made up entirely of his own compositions, that give no indication of their musical provenance, but seem to work for the band. Beginning with “Happy Belated,” the band finds a groove that focusses on the interplay among the members with Bernard leading the way. “Not Too Fancy” is a little vignette between guitarist Bernard and bassist Ben Allison that has a quiet polished effect.

Moving on to “Habenera”, Bernard captures a tango theme with Charette’s organ opening the stops with an over the top effect, that segues into a long bass solo from Miller. In his own guitar work, Bernard plums a probing  description of the Argentine pampas. “Homeward Bound” is propelled by the drumming of Allison Miller, as she moves tirelessly from cymbals to snare drum, as Charette’s organ fills the space behind Bernard’s  guitar voicing.

In the remaining tracks, one keeps hoping that a story might emerge or a consistent train of thought that might suggest that the band had a destination in mind. But much like the track titles themselves, “Suggested Reading”, or “Full Sweep” or “Pan Seared” they all have a rather polyglot feeling. Nothing wrong per se, just conceptually confusing. The title track “Out And About” closes out the disc and has a Latin feel. Bernard stresses some meandering guitar lines, backed by Charette’s upper register organ. Nice, but no cigar.

TrackList: Happy Belated; Not Too Fancy; Next Guest; Habenera; Redwood( Business Casual); Homeward Bound; Homebody; Suggested Reading; Full Sweep; Pan Seared; Out And About

—Pierre Giroux

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