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C the Blues by Dave Bernstein Quartet

San Francisco area guitarist Dave Bernstein (no relation to New York guitarist Peter Bernstein) has released an impressive debut effort in "C the Blues". The quartet generates straight-ahead bebop (with a little funk and latin thrown in the mix), with Bernstein’s guitar sound heavily reflective of Wes Montgomery and Grant Green. The band consists of native San Franciscans not well known outside of the Bay Area - Alan Steger on piano, Chris Amberger on bass, and drummer Michael Spencer. Eight of the thirteen tunes on the album are Bernstein’s originals, but all display a deep appreciation for jazz guitar tradition.

The opening tune is Bernstein’s "Rabbits", based on the familiar "Indiana/Donna Lee" changes with a few alterations. Pianist Steger opens his solo with a nice lengthy quote of "There’s A Small Hotel." Other bright spots include a swinging, grooving journey through the rare Cecil Taylor composition "Louise" and an uptempo blaze through Bud Powell’s tricky "Oblivion", which gives Bernstein a chance to really show off his chops.

Bernstein’s solos "Extemporaneous" and "Extemporaneously" both showcase funky, thumpy R&B-inspired blues playing. The quartet’s "You’d Be So Nice To come Home To" evokes memories of Jim Hall’s classic 1974 "Concierto" interpretation. Another forgotten standard, Frank Loesser’s "Moon Over Manakoora", has Bernstein emulating Hawaiian guitar sounds through the head before easing into a relaxed swinging groove.

This well-recorded CD, which was also produced by Bernstein, should do well to introduce the guitarist's substantial jazz talents and hopefully will extend his sphere of appreciation to the world and elsewhere.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Dave Bernstein Quartet
  • CD Title: C the Blues
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Wolftone Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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