An ambitious collaboration with musical subversive Jim Thirwell, the downtown New York composer also known as the notorious brains behind more than 20 years of “Foetus” recordings (“Scraping Foetus off the Wheel,” and so on). Steven arranged the music for a 19-piece ensemble, which has been performed live around the world.
Steven Bernstein serves as the bandleader for this ongoing world concert tour, conceptualized by Hal Willner and featuring the music of Leonard Cohen as interpreted by a galaxy of popular performers who have been influenced by the poet and songwriter, including: Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons), Laurie Anderson Perla Batalla, Nick Cave Julie Christensen Jarvis Cocker The Handsome Family, Robin Holcomb, Mary Margaret O’ Hara, Beth Orton, Lou Reed, Teddy Thompson, Rufus Wainwright, Linda Thompson and Martha Wainwright. The concerts formed the basis of the 2005 documentary “I’m Your Man,” by Lian Lunson.
A new twist on kid’s music, this joint project of Steven Bernstein and producer Andy Hurwitz corrals an all-star lineup of formidable jazzers to rev up children’s songs like “Old MacDonald” (in which the farmer is recast as a hip bandleader) and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” The Verve/Forecast recording, “Go Baby Go,” features keyboardist John Medeski (Medeski, Martin & Wood), drummer Ben Perwosky (Dave Douglas, MTO), saxophonist Briggan Krauss (Sex Mob), bassists Brad Jones (Jazz Passengers, Marc Ribot) and Lonnie Plaxico (Cassandra Wilson, Dizzy Gillespie).
Bernstein’s Diaspora Projects explore the far-flung worlds of Herbew music as it bubbles up in unlikely contexts in a trio of releases on Tzadik. “Diaspora Soul” (1999) digs into “the Gulf Coast sound, encompassing Texas and Cuba.” Its successor, “Diaspora Blues” (2002) finds Bernstein in collaboration with the great Sam Rivers and his trio. The most recent edition, “Diaspora Hollywood” (2004) taps the inspiration of Jewish film composers such as Alfred Newman and Max Steiner, with a West Coast band that includes X drummer DJ Bonebrake (on vibes), baritone saxist Pablo Calogero, bassist David Pilch and drummer Danny Frankel. Fans have praised the recording as an exquisite excursion into “lounge mysticism,” redolent of noirish intrigue.
The trio of Bernstein, slide guitar mastermind Dave Tronzo and tuba genius Marcus Rojas was active between 1993 and 1997, recording three albums of subversive and surprising music some of which was used for the production of “Fly by Night” by the San Francisco Ballet. Spanish Fly started performing together again in 2005, and are working on a new recording project. The unusual instrumentation of this group has never quite been matched. “This trio defies genres, as well as gravity.” – SF Bay Guardian.
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