Bernard Wright – 1981 – ‘Nard

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A masterpiece of smooth jazzy funk – and super-hip session headed up by the young keyboardist Bernard Wright! Wright’s working here with an insider crowd of jazz funk players that includes Bobby Broom, Dave Grusin, Marcus Miller, and Don Blackman, whose funky style is very similar to Wright’s. The record sort of picks up the groove where some of the Fantasy Records sessions of the 70s left off – mixing together jazz and soul into a captivating blend that’s made even better by Dave Grusin’s tight production. And despite what you might think about the crap that Grusin headed up later in the 80s, the early days of the GRP label were amazing years for jazz funk.

Includes Don Blackman’s sample classic “Haboglabotribin“, a nice version of Weldon Irvine’s “Music Is The Key“, and the cuts”Just Chillin’ Out“, “Master Rocker“, and “Bread Sandwiches“. Great all the way through, though – and a record that still delights us year after year! (Dusty Groove)

Tracks
A1 Master Rocker 3:15
A2 Firebolt Hustle 4:04
A3 Haboglabortibin’ 4:22
A4 Spinnin’ 5:29
B1 Just Chillin’ Out 4:22
B2 Bread Sandwiches 3:50
B3 Music Is the Key 4:54
B4 We’re Just the Band 3:00
B5 Solar 7:17

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Review by TheKhemist

You know, there are records that become part of the fabric of the culture, through constant play on radio, TV, internet etc. . ., and the next generation of artists latch onto those records because they represent the world they were raised in.

“Sgt. Pepper’s”, “Songs In the Key of Life“, “What’s Going On“, “Thriller”, etc. . . provided tons of inspiration for the generations that followed them because they never went away, and because of that their music still infects the culture as a whole, through continued radio play, remakes, and sampling.

And then there are records like this one by one Bernard Wright.

From my recollection, none of these songs were huge hits and I’ve never heard any of them on the radio. It’s kind of a forgotten record in the transitional era between the funk/disco era of the late ’70s and the Michael Jackson/Prince/Hip-Hop era of the ’80s. It’s a lost classic of sorts for people who love jazz chops and funk grooves.

That being said, many of the songs on here have ingrained in American culture through the countless amount of samples that this record provides.

You can hear Snoop Doggy Dogg‘s “Doggystyle” era classic “G’z & Hustlaz” on the funky “Haboglabortibin“.

You can hear one hit wonder Skee-Lo‘s classic “I Wish” on “Spinning

You can hear the outro from the west coast classic, “What’s That Cha Say” by Anotha Level on “Music Is The Key

Just listening to this record is like hearing the collective thoughts of a whole generation of Hip-Hop producers.

It just makes it all the more amazing that this 18 year old kid, Bernard Wright had the musical ideas to influence an entire generation of people, who probably don’t even know his name.

Favorite Tracks:

“Haboglabortibin”  “Just Chillin’ Out”  “Music Is The Key”  “Spinnin'”  “Bread Sandwiches”

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Review by Andre’ S Grindle

After hearing “‘Nard” the one definitive impression you’ll have is that New York pianist Bernard Wright has a large number of musical influences ranging from Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Lenny White and of course Dave Gruisin (his producer) and Miles Davis. But one thing the 16 year old musician does very well is find unique and creative ways of gathering his influences into his own special kind of musical sound. Released on vinyl in 1981 on GRP “‘Nard” is at it’s core a funk-jazz album,but all that means is that the backup has a rhythmic R&B style over whitch Wright plays very memorable and often improvised solo’s on his acoustic piano,fender rhodes and sometimes the occational synthesizer. But only on the spiky funk of “Just Chillin’ Out” and “We’re Just The Band” do synths play that big a part.”Master Rocker“,”Spinnin‘”,”Firebolt Hustle” and the jamming “Bread Sandwiches” are all based on a chunky backup of guitars, rhythms and often sudden melodic exchanges,that plus the comically absurd vocals of “Haboglabotribin‘” brings up the George Duke connection.

The general sound (especially on the one ballad “Music Is The Key” showcases Bernard Wright as an artist with a firmly established 1970’s-based sound-the electronics and glossy sheen of 1980’s style jazz-funk an R&B in general are not to be found in huge doses on ‘Nard’. But thanks I’m sure to poor promotion on GRP’s part this album (and artist in general) have gone almost forgoten.  I recommend it not only as an ear pleasing guidebook for other aspiring young musicians but to any fan of late 70’s/early 80’s transtional jazz-funk in general.

 

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23 Comments
  • Dell
    Posted at 10:59h, 24 November 2016 Reply

    He toured with Lenny White at 13 and played with Tom Browne in 1979. I still remember “Just Chillin’ Out.” when it came out.

  • RossB
    Posted at 12:51h, 24 November 2016 Reply

    this is a dam good album.

  • Lovafunkymusic
    Posted at 16:43h, 24 November 2016 Reply

    A mega funky musician from GRP!!!

  • Fred
    Posted at 19:02h, 24 November 2016 Reply

    Classic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Adam
    Posted at 08:14h, 25 November 2016 Reply

    Always happy to see some early 80s jams on here.

  • Mark
    Posted at 10:46h, 25 November 2016 Reply

    The Background singers on “Music Is The Key” are Patti Austin and Luther Vandross.

  • L15
    Posted at 11:35h, 25 November 2016 Reply

    Some serious funk on it. Great work man.

  • Justin Vernon
    Posted at 18:44h, 25 November 2016 Reply

    awesome, thank you very much for this here best music blog…period

  • Dave Nimmons
    Posted at 02:38h, 26 November 2016 Reply

    Such an underrated artist and album

  • M. J.. Slash
    Posted at 12:23h, 26 November 2016 Reply

    The bass work of Marcus Miller on “Haboglabotribin” is epic. Superb album.

  • Nikos
    Posted at 12:33h, 26 November 2016 Reply

    The late great Don Blackman wrote this tune for Bernard Wright. He sang on it & played the Fender Rhodes on it while Bernard played all other keyboards.
    and of course Marcus Miller played bass on this track.. Classic.

  • E.S.P.
    Posted at 22:02h, 27 November 2016 Reply

    Never heard of him till now. Pretty damn good. Gonna go find on amazon

  • Pistons
    Posted at 00:57h, 28 November 2016 Reply

    This album is straight ???

  • Supernaturalboy
    Posted at 11:13h, 28 November 2016 Reply

    Found countless gems through this site.. inspirational!

  • Sammy
    Posted at 12:04h, 29 November 2016 Reply

    Killer funnnnkkkkkkk

  • Alamo
    Posted at 19:14h, 29 November 2016 Reply

    Folks, amazing work. Such a beautiful album.

  • Yo
    Posted at 22:56h, 29 November 2016 Reply

    Timeless amazing classic!!!!

  • Zemecis
    Posted at 23:07h, 29 November 2016 Reply

    Οne of those albums I can’t here enough of.

  • Loui B
    Posted at 10:05h, 30 November 2016 Reply

    a jazz-funk gem, period.

  • Rod Ferguson
    Posted at 10:30h, 30 November 2016 Reply

    Loved this album for many many years.
    Never get bored listening to it. Great post!

  • Colin
    Posted at 10:47h, 30 November 2016 Reply

    jamming

  • Oswaldo
    Posted at 14:50h, 30 November 2016 Reply

    it’s all about funk!

  • rich
    Posted at 22:26h, 30 November 2016 Reply

    thank you nikos, killer album

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