Since 1986, when guitarist and composer Randy Bernsen embarked on his career by directly recruiting the stars of the time for his debut album, including Jaco Pastorius, it was a more complex time when Bob James and Peter Eskine decided to participate in this project that came to life under the Zebra label. The enthusiastic reviews in DownBeat and other jazz-specialized magazines greatly contributed to establishing Randy Bernsen’s reputation. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that his new album, “Heart Mind and Soul,” is now spinning on our turntables, earning the admiration of jazz enthusiasts just like his first album did. With sumptuous compositions and arrangements that carry the scent of years of experience with the greatest artists he encountered on stage, especially considering that even on the second album, jazz stars such as Wayne Shorter and Michael Brecker, bassist Marcus Miller, drummer Steve Gadd, and harmonica legend Toots Thielemans were still present. It seems like a dream, but no, it’s a reality!
“Heart Mind and Soul” is an easily enjoyable album that doesn’t seek to impress in any way. With elements of jazz, funk, and even soul influences, the album features the excellent Bob Mintzer on the track “Shepherd’s Heart,” where he skillfully uses the saxophone to delight us from start to finish. The only criticism we have of this album is that it’s a bit short, with only six tracks. One reaches the end too quickly because from the beginning of this album, you embark on a long journey experiencing diverse and varied atmospheres. There’s no doubt that Randy Bernsen is one of the greatest contemporary artists. Perhaps not the most talked about, but one whom jazz enthusiasts and industry professionals speak of with a smile and a knowing look.
Precise and rigorous in both his guitar playing and arrangements, this album is a source of pleasure that one cannot deny. There are artists like him—discreet, impressive—who don’t need to go overboard to leave a lasting impression. They simply impress with the quality of their art. This is what we prioritize on Bayou Blue Radio, far from the deafening noise of the music industry, which nowadays serves little purpose other than to standardize minds. These are the reasons why the editorial teams of Bayou Blue Radio and Paris-Move have chosen to include this album in our “essential” list.
PARIS-MOVE, November 15th 2023