Remembering Warren Bernhardt

November 13, 1938 – August 19, 2022

A tribute to the versatile keyboardist

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Keyboardist Warren Bernhardt passed away on Aug. 19, 2022 at the age of 83.

He was born on Nov. 13, 1938 in Wausau, Wisconsin.

His father was a pianist who gave him some early lessens; Bernhardt grew up in New York City and studied chemistry and physics at the University of Chicago before turning towards music for his career.

He started his career as a member of Paul Winter’s Sextet during 1961-64, moved back to New York, and worked with George Benson, Gerry Mulligan, Jeremy Steig and, in the 1980s, Steps Ahead.

While inspired by his mentor Bill Evans, Bernhardt was a flexible keyboardist who also played fusion, funk, and rock (including touring with Steely Dan and Simon & Garfunkel), working on over 1,000 dates as a studio musician.

However his true love was jazz and along the way he recorded with Kenny Burrell, Art Farmer, Mike Mainieri, Gary McFarland, Jack DeJohnette, Pat Martino and many others in addition to leading at least 16 albums of his own.

From 1985, Warren Bernhardt performs his composition “Manhattan Update” with drummer Steve Gadd’s group which also features trumpeter Ack Van Rooyen, saxophonist George Young (seen here on soprano), and bassist Eddie Gomez.

-Scott Yanow

 

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