Frances Henry MP3-Radio Artist
Randy Bernsen In 1979, guitarist John McLaughlin, bassist Jaco Pastorius and drummer Tony Williams formed a jazz/fusion trio for the ages to perform at the Havana Jam in Cuba. Pastorius dubbed the collective the “Trio of Doom.” Nearly 45 years later, South Florida-based guitarist and composer Randy Bernsen (randybernsen.com) will tour in a trio with Pastorius’ bass-playing son Felix Pastorius and British drummer Gary Husband, whose credits include both McLaughlin and Allan Holdsworth, perhaps England’s two greatest historical jazz/fusion guitar luminaries. “With the core rhythm section of Felix Pastorius and Gary Husband, I’m looking forward to performances throughout Europe, Asia and the U.S. starting this fall through 2024,” Bernsen says. “I’ve known Felix his whole life, and Gary is the baddest, whether on drums or keyboards.” Bernsen is a longtime resident of Fort Lauderdale, and will tour in support of his latest recording. The all-original, self-produced ‘Heart Mind and Soul,’ released on June 16th, is his 11th album. It features saxophonists Bob Mintzer (Yellowjackets, Pastorius) and Bob Franceschini (Mike Stern, Victor Wooten), bassist Jimmy Haslip (Holdsworth, Oz Noy), trumpeter Dan Davis, keyboardist George Whitty, and siblings Uzi Nizri (keyboards) and David Nizri (drums). A Needham, Massachusetts native, Bernsen moved to South Florida in his youth, cutting his own teeth by often playing alongside the late Pastorius. The fretless electric bass titan appeared on Bernsen’s 1986 debut, ‘Music For People, Planets & Washing Machines’ (Zebra), along with keyboardists Herbie Hancock and Bob James and drummer Peter Erskine. Bernsen’s 1987 and 1988 follow-ups on MCA’s Zebra imprint, ‘Mo’ Wasabi’ and ‘Paradise Citizens,’ were likewise star-studded, with saxophonists Wayne Shorter and Michael Brecker, bassist Marcus Miller, drummer Steve Gadd, and harmonica player Toots Thielemans. While earning his commercial pilot’s license, Bernsen toured Japan, Malaysia and Mexico and worked with Weather Report keyboardist and guru Joe Zawinul’s side project The Zawinul Syndicate, appearing on its 1992 recording ‘Lost Tribes.’ The guitarist has since recorded independently, releasing albums like ‘Calling Me Back Home,’ ‘AppTeaser’ and ‘Grace Notes’ that included Haslip, Thielemans, keyboardists John Medeski and Joe Sample, and bassist Abraham Laboriel. Armed with that back catalog, ample standards and the rootsy fusion of ‘Heart Mind and Soul’ (available through Bernsen’s website and multiple streaming services), the guitarist is set to soar with Pastorius, Husband, and various occasional saxophonists or keyboardists on tour in 2023. Pastorius (1951-1987) called himself “the greatest bass player in the world,” which would’ve been absurd boast if not acknowledged as true by practically every bassist past and present. With his double-jointed thumbs and speed and dexterity on a four-stringed fretless bass, which blended the rhythmic thump of a standard electric instrument with the singing tone of an acoustic upright, he wrote a new rulebook that still exists. Felix Pastorius studied it intently, bravely taking up the same instrument, while bearing the same last name, as its standard-bearer. Yet at age 41, he’s created his own legacy. He also has double-jointed thumbs, but that’s where the comparisons end, since he plays a fretted six-stringed bass. His rhythmic, harmonic and melodic prowess has been featured on numerous recordings, including by the Yellowjackets and saxophonist Jeff Coffin’s Mu’Tet. Husband toured and recorded with Holdsworth (1946-2017), helping put the guitarist on the worldwide map as a solo recording artist through the 1980s. Since then, Husband has worked with drumming icon Billy Cobham as a keyboardist and second drummer and done the same with McLaughlin’s 4th Dimension band since the mid-2000s. With a scroll of recordings under his own name, on which he plays both of his primary instruments, Husband is as musical a drummer as any through jazz/fusion history. With his driving style, and a signature attack on the snare drum, the Brit’s playing recalls a combination of Williams, Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Buddy Rich.