"Brandon Bernstein has one of the most gorgeous guitar sounds I have ever heard on record. Whether he's playing with a pick or with his fingers, its just so warm, balanced, and rich. His solo version of But Beautiful is one of those rare gems. Played with that quality of sound that invites the listener into another world, Brandon subtly transforms this old chestnut into something very magical. There is much humanity in Brandon's artistry."(Larry Koonse, guitarist)
"Brandon Bernstein has a sensitive touch on the guitar, a vibrant sound, and a wonderful sense of melodic direction. His debut CD is simply beautiful."
(Roddy Ellias, guitarist)
"Brandon Bernstein is one of the most impressive young guitarists on the scene. He is musically creative and his high level of craft is tempered with deep introspection. I look forward to hearing everything he comes out with." (Sid Jacobs, guitarist)
"On this CD of tastefully rendered standards Brandon Bernstein displays a great sound, excellent feel, and just the right amount of irreverence." (Ben Monder, guitarist)
" Guitarist Brandon Bernstein Is coming out of the tradition of great mainstream jazz guitar, but he is already finding his own voice. He swings, has a great sound and melodic sensibility and demonstrates a real conversational rapport with his bandmates. I thoroughly enjoy playing with Brandon and look forward to following his career."
(John Stowell, guitarist)
"Brandon Bernstein is a sensitive and serious guitarist whose sincerity bodes well for this great art form." (Putter Smith, bassist)
"Brandon is a “thirty-something”. We wonder how someone so youthful could possess the maturity (both emotionally and musically) to render the sentiments found in this tune with such insight and clarity".
(Just Jazz Guitar)
"Bernstein’s lean, tasteful playing and light sound might bring to mind his biggest hero, Ed Bickert."
"If you're a fan of Jim Hall, Ed Bickert and Gene Bertoncini, amongst other like minded players, you'll surely enjoy the mature musicality and playing of Jazz Guitarist Brandon Bernstein on his first official release as a leader. "But Beautiful", a trio recording of guitar, bass and drums, features an abundance of taste, swing and introspective playing from all, with an overall sound that is as pleasing as a warm embrace."
(Lyle Robinson - Jazz Guitar Life)
"You can tell he puts the love of playing first and has been putting in his 10,000 hours since first falling in love with his ax as a tyro, this cat is on the money and in the pocket throughout. This set sounds simple but it’s really anything but. This is a great showcase of young master at work."
(Chris Spector MidWest Record)
REVIEW: “But Beautiful” by the Brandon Bernstein Trio
The first CD release by JJG contributor, guitarist Brandon Bernstein brings even more muscle to the “street creds” of this publication in addition to the joy of extending well deserved congratulations to one of our own for a project that was both well thought out and brilliantly executed. Joining Brandon on the recording, are two of the finest musicians in Los Angeles: Putter Smith on bass, and Kendall Kay on drums. The choice of personnel for this trio produces an ensemble that is as creatively sensitive, as it is strong.
The first tune on the disc, “That Old Feeling” is iconic of that which those of us who are fortunate enough to have heard Brandon in live performance expect of him. The head is presented with such emotional and musical depth, that it startles the listener. Brandon is a “thirty-something”. We wonder how someone so youthful could possess the maturity (both emotionally and musically) to render the sentiments found in this tune with such insight and clarity. I think this might be due to his admiration of the music of Jim Hall. That, to my ear, is also present in the way that Brandon approaches his solo in this tune. He doesn’t jump on it – he lets it unfold. The listener is indeed brought to experience exactly what “That Old Feeling” is about. Brandon’s abilities are not solely in the area of ballads – this man can swing! I offer as evidence his rendition of Bud Powell’s “Celia”. A tough tune to begin with; but it sure flows in the hands of this trio. This tune jumps; and the irrefutable aplomb of these three master musicians has us shaking in our seats. I’d also like to point out that all the solos on this disc belong uniquely to the songs in which they are played – there is nothing generic or interchangeable about the choruses that are given to improvisation. The trio is developing musical ideas – not just blowing lines.
Finally, a few words about Brandon’s atmospheric solo arrangement of “But Beautiful”: this is a meeting of the heart, hands, and mind. It has a warmth and bell-like nature that speaks of one’s innermost feelings with the degree of candor that can only be expressed by someone who has a solid grip on all the elements of music. As with all of the ten tunes that make up this recording, I want to hear it again, and again, and again. This CD is available through iTunes or at www.brandon-bernstein.com.
Reviewed by Dr. Steve Kinigstein
Just Jazz Guitar Magazine
BRANDON BERNSTEIN TRIO/But Beautiful: Here’s an intriguing jazz guitarist it pays to keep an ear out for. While obviously and tastefully influenced by Wes Montgomery, you can also hear echoes of influences by the recently reissued Ed Bickert, Joe Pass and even contemporary ear openers like Julian Lage. You can tell he puts the love of playing first and has been putting in his 10,000 hours since first falling in love with his ax as a tyro, this cat is on the money and in the pocket throughout. This set sounds simple but it’s really anything but. This is a great showcase of young master at work. Check it out.
Volume 37/Number 233
June 22, 2013
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record
Grady Harp gave 5 stars to: But Beautiful
Grady Harp reviewed:
But Beautiful ~ The Brandon Bernstein Trio
Jazz guitar trio performing their own unique interpretation of standards, June 28, 2013
This review is from: But Beautiful (Audio CD)
Brandon Bernstein is establishing himself as one of the finest jazz guitarists in Los Angeles. In addition to his frequent performances Bernstein is an adjunct professor at Pasadena City College, Cypress College and Chaffey College in Los Angeles where he teaches jazz guitar and lectures. He is you, he is committed to his art, and he is one fine, smooth and sensitive artist.
One critic noted, `Here’s an intriguing jazz guitarist it pays to keep an ear out for. While obviously and tastefully influenced by Wes Montgomery, you can also hear echoes of influences by the recently reissued Ed Bickert, Joe Pass and even contemporary ear openers like Julian Lage. You can tell he puts the love of playing first and has been putting in his 10,000 hours since first falling in love with his ax as a tyro, this cat is on the money and in the pocket throughout. This set sounds simple but it’s really anything but. This is a great showcase of young master at work.’
The Brandon Bernstein Trio consists of Brandon Bernstein on guitar, Putter Smith on acoustic bass, and Kendall Kay on drums – the latter two are considered among the finest musician in Los Angeles, as is of course Bernstein himself!.
But Beautiful (self-released)
Brandon Bernstein Trio
The young Pasadena-based guitarist Brandon Bernstein several years ago co-authored a book on the style of Kurt Rosenwinkel. But a Kurt imitator he’s not.
However, his debut disc, But Beautiful, is a more mellow and conventional disc than some of Rosenwinkel’s blazingly modern recordings.
Bernstein — not to be confused with New York guitarist Peter Bernstein — has released a collection of 10 polished, nicely measured standards, with the veteran bassist Putter Smith and seasoned drummer Kendall Kay ably supporting him.
When he attended Concordia University in Montreal more than a decade ago, Bernstein was a former student of Ottawa guitarist Roddy Ellias. I’m probably reading too much into that connection, but Bernstein’s thoughtful and exploratory playing as he begins his solo on the disc’s opener That Old Feeling reminds me of Ellias. Otherwise, Bernstein’s lean, tasteful playing and light sound might bring to mind his biggest hero, Ed Bickert.
There’s a preponderance of medium-tempo swingers such as That Old Feeling, I Should Care and I’ll Be Seeing You. Faster tunes such as Background Music, Warne Marsh’s contrafact on All Of Me, pop a bit from the larger, more gentle context of the disc. Overall, the well-chosen tunes are played with respect and, at most, minor tweaks — You Go To My Head is a lilting bossa, and My Old Flame undergoes a 5/4 remake.
Most notably, Bernstein performs Skylark and But Beautiful on acoustic guitar and imbues them with lots of Americana feeling without any loss of jazz sophistication.
Peter Hum Ottawa Citizen
Interview with Jazz Guitar Life
Pasadena Weekly feature