Randy Bernsen

South Florida guitarist Randy Bernsen started his recording career in an unorthodox way, calling a collection of jazz/fusion luminaries who, even to his surprise, agreed to be a part of his 1986 debut album Music for People, Planets & Washing Machines. After recruiting fretless bass giant and fellow South Florida resident Jaco Pastorius and getting a return call of interest from keyboard virtuoso Herbie Hancock, it was easier to interest keyboardist Bob James and drummer Peter Erskine. Released on MCA’s Zebra label, the album earned Bernsen write-ups in Down Beat and Guitar Player magazines and appeared to start a flourishing career. Bernsen’s follow-up, 1987′s Mo’ Wasabi, was even better, as his initial all-stars were joined by saxophonists Wayne Shorter and Michael Brecker, bassist Marcus Miller, drummer Steve Gadd, and harmonica legend Toots Thielemans. More positive press from JAZZIZ and USA Today followed, but when the 1988 album Paradise Citizens didn’t attract the same attention despite the same dazzling roster, Bernsen’s tenure with Zebra was finished. No one knew at the time that the guitarist — who excelled whether playing clean-toned lines or mimicking keyboards, saxophone, or steel drums on his guitar synthesizer — would never release a major-label solo album again. As it turned out, Bernsen continuously tours Europe, Asia, as well as the States. A stint with former Weather Report leader Joe Zawinul (replacing fellow South Florida guitarist Scott Henderson) resulted in some fine work on Zawinul’s 1992 Lost Tribes CD, and Bernsen’s independently released CD Calling Me Back Home featured another all-star roster the next year… Joe Sample, Toots Thielemans, Brandon Fields, and Abraham Laboriel. His house gig at a Fort Lauderdale club resulted in Bernsen’s next CD, Live at Tavern 213, and featured excellent improvisations and catchy melodies. Live in San Miguel de Allende was Bernsen’s follow up CD recorded at an international festival in Mexico. Presently, Jerico Jams, his production house, is responsible for the following three CDs, Be Still and Know, Angels We Have Heard On High, and his latest AppTeaser, recorded with his organ trio, Uzi Nizri/organ and David Nizri/drums. This CD also features jazz jam legend John Medeski on the cut Groove On. (Bernsen’s musical nod to his former boss Zawinul.) This CD is all about… JAZZ-JAM-IMPROV!

Bernsen’s other project, Ethnic Rotation teams up with the South Florida group Way of the Groove, featuring, Julius Pastorius, Colin James, Adam Lucas, and multi-instrumentalist Jaui Schneider. High energy ambience (if there is such a thing) mixed with groove improvisations and beatlesque melodies…
Randy Bernsen
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