This is the eighth solo album for Worrell, who was a founding member and musical director of original Parliament-Funkadelic (P-Funk) and has collaborated extensively with Talking Heads.
The keyboard maestro said he enjoyed the challenge of putting a different spin on timeless standards such as “Take Five” (originally recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet) and “You’re My Thrill” (famously recorded by artists such as Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee and Doris Day.) on the album, which was co-produced by Evan Taylor.
“Evan and I arranged the format of the songs and made charts for the rest of the band,” says Worrell, a classically trained piano prodigy who studied jazz in between his classical studies at New England Conservatory of Music. “We changed some things in the process without getting too far away from the original ideas. We also took some ideas from the players because I like teamwork.”
Worrell breathes new life into the classic tunes on ‘Standards’, which were performed with a variety of approaches that fuse jazz, funk and bossa nova and contain underpinnings of his classical training. Worrell and Taylor used an all-analog production technique and recorded the tunes live to tape in an attempt to recreate the sonic quality of a classic jazz record.
“I’m known for playing the Hammond organ, Minimoog synthesizer and electric piano with P-Funk and Talking Heads as well as with my latest collaborations: SociaLybrium and WesNWorrell,” Worrell explains. “It was great to use those instruments in a jazz context, along with horns, vibraphones and upright bass. Worrell fused both his classical and jazz background to create his distinctive keyboard playing that has been featured on hits such as “Flashlight”, “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker”, and “Atomic Dog”, to name a few.
“I have a knack for never playing the same thing twice,” says Worrell. “I’ll always go somewhere new with whatever project I’m working on, although there’s a basic funk feel injected into all my music.”
Worrell, 66, says he has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.
“Music is a gift I was given from God and that’s what I like to do,” he says. “I don’t know how to do anything else. Music heals, it makes people happy and it was a great gift I was given, so I have to give back.”
Worrell is gearing up for a series of tour dates in 2011, beginningJanuary 20 at the Bitter End in New York City. Additional dates will be announced in the coming weeks.
‘Bernie Worrell: Standards’ track listing:
1. “Take the ‘A’ Train”
2. “Take Five”
3. “Agua de Beber”
4. “All the Things You Are”
5. “You’re My Thrill”
6. “Watermelon Man”
7. “Bye Bye Blackbird”
8. “Killer Joe”
9. “Moon River”