December 27, 2012

Welcome to the Wooniverse

BURLINGTON — Bernie Worrell.

Child prodigy. Juilliard. New England Conservatory of Music. Chubby & the Turnpikes. Maxine Brown. Parliament-Funkadelic. Talking Heads. Woo Warriors. Bernie Worrell Orchestra. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


The Wizard of Woo sprinkles his magical keys in more genres than you can shake a good witch’s wand at, and you, too, can get funked up with a jazzy twist Sunday at Club Metronome in Burlington.

Worrell’s perfect-pitch sonics, infused with the classical canon, still amaze the Woo-ed and novices.

For his latest configuration, he had no vision for the Bernie Worrell Orchestra: Andrew Kimball (guitar), Kyle Cadena (guitar), Scott Hogan (bass), Glen Fittin (percussion), Evan Taylor (drums/bandleader), Shlomi Cohen (alto sax), Ofer Asaf (tenor sax) and Justin Mullens (trumpet).

“Evan Taylor is a young and upcoming producer,” Worrell said. “He approached management to see if I would be interested. I said, I don’t know; I’ll think about it. Then, I said yes. We met and I said, OK. I’ll try it. I don’t consider myself a jazz player. Everyone said, ‘Oh, Bernie stop.’”

His life unfolds divinely from his Jersey Shore beginnings.

“That’s the way God wanted it. That’s the way it is.”

He lived in Long Branch, when his mother, Cora, started him on the piano at age 3.

“She recognized the talent at the time and tried to find someone to teach me. She could play enough to accompany herself. She sang in the church choir. She taught me scales. I played perfect pitch every day.”

Piano instructors were reluctant to take on a toddler — except Adelaide Waxwood, who became his godparent, along with her husband.


As far as classical composers, he leans toward Mozart, Debussy and Ravel.

“I like everybody. People ask who is the best? God is the best. Everyone contributes whatever they bring to the table.”

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