R E V I E W S
“Steve displays an excellent vocabulary of flamenco licks in his original composition " Spanish Rice" which reveals a noticeable Al Di Mieola influence. His other material ranges from fusion to funk , with many intricate rhythm arrangement and strong melodies.”
Mike Varney Guitar Player Magazine
Permanent Solutions by
The Bernd Brothers
Here’s some great electric guitar fusion, with excellent funk/melodic electric bass guitar. The Bernd Brothers are Bill Bernd on bass and Steve Bernd on electric guitar. They are joined by David Hicks on keyboards, synthesizer, and vocals, as well as Jeff Geyer on drums and percussion. Apparently, these guys have been hiding out on the Internet, but now we can all enjoy their talents. Bill and Steve wrote a majority of the material on Permanent Solution (only 2 of the 14 are not written by the Brothers). Clean and crisp production help make this disc sound great throughout.
Let’s talk about some of the tracks:
The Brothers opening/title track, "Permanent Solution", features a solid groove, with nice jazz guitar melody. Guitar and keyboard solos, from Steve Bernd and David Hicks, treat the listener to some tasty moments. Bill Bernd’s ending bass solo sounds like it is cut short, but the overall track introduces the brothers well and sets a high level of expectation.
This expectation is rewarded with "Sweet Dreams". This second track has a soothing samba feel, featuring a full sounding electric guitar. The percussion and fretless bass add that extra spice to take me on a trip to a tropical cabana. The Bernd Brothers are truly talented, and surrounded by equally talented supporting musicians.
"Funk-A-Tash" is a piece featuring Bill Bernd’s bass work. Bill shines while soloing on his electric fretless. The full band keeps the groove, and Steve keeps things interesting with a few solos added to the song. This tune almost has a jam feel to it. Very fun.
"Steve’s Quick Pick" appears to be here to show us that the guys can provide a variety of styles. This is a straight up country guitar "pickin’-n’-grinnin" instrumental. There really is nothing unexpected for this style, and kind of reminiscent of Dixie Dregs.
"EM9" is a straight-up jazz piece, with walking bass lines and blues progression. I like the guitar solos and bass solos, but the track is just a bit too short in length.
"Hot Mustard" is the only vocal tune, and has a funky groove in 11/8 time. Cool arrangement, and David Hicks does a nice job with a solid vocal performance. For a funk tune like this, David may have been a bit too precise with his vocals. It could be a bit looser. I got a "Tower of Power" feel from this. Great dirty guitar tone on this one.
"Skyline Drive" has a definite Al DiMeola feel to it. I like the groove, and could get the "big city" feel. This is some smooth jazz, with just a bit of push to it. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the release. I can’t get it out of my head. This is great music for an evening cruise around the city.
"Calm Before The Storm" starts out with Bill’s fretless bass accompanied by Steve picking on his electric. Very soothing intro, and kicks into a funk groove. There are progressive breaks between sections, but these don’t seem to fit the overall tune. It’s creative, but breaks the mood. Groovy keyboard and guitar solo trade offs in the middle, then harmonizing together.
"Steppin Out" is another classic jazz piece with the walking bass line, but doesn’t have the blues progression. This is more along the lines of the "big city" vibe, and is full of many great solos. Bass, Guitar, and Keyboard all shine.
"A Night In Tunisia" is a Dizzy Gillespie/Frank Faparelli piece. This is brought to us in a straight jazz style with a touch of smooth jazz thrown in to make it interesting. This is another great piece for cruising the city at night. It could have been longer, for my taste.
"White Sands" leads us into a latin jazz feel, with almost a Santana vibe. This gets close to the DiMeola style again, and Bill gets to show us more of his expert fretless bass work. Some smokin’ guitar solos from Steve help to make this tune even more enjoyable. Very cool, and a solid ending for the disc.
Overall, I am very impressed with The Bernd Brothers and am pleased to have been introduced to their music. My only suggestion is that they work a bit harder on the songwriting. Everything else is almost perfect. Great job guys, and thanks for sharing with the world.
Written by Tim Hamm
Artist / Group Name:Bernd Brothers
CD Title:Permanent Solutions
Record Label:Scuba Dive
Tim Hamm Jazzreview.com
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