Will Bernard first began playing and recording on an international level during his membership in Peter Apfelbaum’s Hieroglyphics Ensemble, whose first recording was on Don Cherry’s “MultiKulti” (A&M 1989). Since then Will has been involved with a host of boundary stretching groups, ranging from jazz, funk, hip hop and world music to experimental music, with many stops in between.
He has performed and recorded with Stanton Moore, Charlie Hunter, Dr Lonnie Smith, Peter Apfelbaum’s Sextet, The Coup, Ben Sidran, among many others. In 1993 he was a member of the group T.J. Kirk (with Charlie Hunter) whose 2nd record for Warner Bros. “If Four Was One” was nominated for a Grammy in 1997. Shortly thereafter Will Bernard released his debut CD as a leader, “Medicine Hat”, in 1998 on Verve/Antilles. Subsequently Will self-produced two Albums “Will Bernard and Motherbug” (2001) and Will Bernard Trio “Directions to my House” (2005) both on his own label, Dreck to Disk. The Will Bernard band has performed at The North Sea, Monterey, Bumbershoot, SF Jazz ,Vienne, Aarhus, Montreal, Vancouver and The High Sierra festivals, as well as clubs across the U.S. and through Europe and 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.
More recently Will relocated from the Bay Area to New York and has been seriously expanding his musical associates; working with a range of musicians that include Robert Walter, Stanton Moore, Dr Lonnie Smith, Idris Muhammad, Adam Deitch, Zigaboo Modeliste, and John Medeski. Between 2002 and 2005 he toured extensively in the US with Robert Walter’s 20th Congress. Sit-ins and all-star bands have included Trey Anastasio, Ruben Wilson, Johnny Vidacovitch, Melvin Seals, and Mike Clark’s Prescription Renewal.
In 2006 Will recorded with Stanton Moore for his Telarc debut and is touring the country with Stanton’s Trio, During the same year Will and Sonoma County’s Groundation began a side project with Leroy Horsemouth Wallace (of reggae cult movie “Rockers” fame) and Will continued his collaborations with Fully Loaded (members of RW20th Congress, Greyboy All-stars and John Scofield) and MG5 (members of Galactic and Greyboy Allstars).
In 2007 Will Signed the the New York based Palmetto Records label and released PARTY HATS on February 20 of that year the CD was nominated for a Grammy in the contemporary Jazz field. His new album Blue Plate Special was released September 30 2008 on the Palmetto label and features John Medeski, Stanton Moore and Andy Hess. In Fall of 2007 Will left the West Coast and now lives in Brooklyn NY.
Matt Balitsaris, President of Palmetto Records, welcomes 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.”
“…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