Bernie Worrell

Elevation: The Upper Air

by John Garratt

4 April 2014

cover art

Bernie Worrell

Elevation: The Upper Air

(M.O.D. Technologies)
US: 26 Nov 2013
UK: 10 Dec 2013

Watching Parliament play in the late ‘90s, I never would have guessed that an album like Elevation: The Upper Air would have come from one of the loudly-dressed, middle-aged gentlemen dancing next to George Clinton. Keyboardist Bernie Worrell’s solo career has, overall, not fallen far from the Parliament/Funkadelic tree—until now. Elevation: The Upper Air is not so much a solo album as it is recorded meditation. With just a piano, a handful of originals and some startlingly reflective interpretations of tunes by John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Boby Marley and Joe Zawinul among others, Worrell holds your hand through probably the most serene garden of classically-trained piano jazz to come from a ‘70s funk collective. But with the Worrell name comes expectations. Some will surrender to the album’s beauty with little convincing, but others won’t be able to handle the minimal touch. When Dave Brubeck did it, everyone was cool with it. But Bernie Worrell? That’s surprising—especially with Bill Laswell producing.

Elevation: The Upper Air



We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.


//Mixed media

Call for Essays on Topics in Culture; Present, Past and the Speculative Future

// Announcements

"PopMatters (est. 1999) is a respected source for smart long-form reading on a wide range of topics in culture. PopMatters serves as…

READ the article