Jazz guitarist Peter Bernstein (b. 1967, New York City) has been a part of the jazz scene in New York and abroad since 1989. During that time he has participated in over 200 recordings and numerous festival, concert and club performances with musicians from all generations. As a leader, Peter has released 12 albums and a DVD, Live at Smoke.
He got his first break while attending the New School when he met the legendary guitarist Jim Hall. Hall asked Peter to participate in his Invitational Concert as part of the 1990 JVC Jazz Festival. The event featured such guitarists as John Scofield and Pat Metheny and was released as “Live at Town Hall Vol. 2” by Music Masters. Hall noted that Peter “…has paid attention to the past as well as the future. He is the most impressive guitarist I’ve heard. He plays the best of them all for swing, logic, feel and taste.” Also in 1990, Peter Bernstein was discovered by alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson and took part in the first of four recordings with him. He was a regular member of his group throughout the 1990s. “Some people just have it.” Donaldson said. “…most of the time you have to teach someone what to do, but Peter knows it all.” Peter has also enjoyed long musical associations with legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb (Cobb’s Mob), as well as organist Larry Goldings and drummer Bill Stewart as a member of their highly acclaimed trio. The New York Times called them “the best organ trio of the last decade”. Together they recorded a dozen of records, all of which display their distinctive sound, whether exploring the depths of jazz standards or playing their original compositions. From 1995 through 1997, Peter was a member of Joshua Redman’s band and played on Redman’s Freedom in the Groove CD. He played with Diana Krall’s quartet from 1999 through 2001 and with Dr. Lonnie Smith, the legendary organist who made his debut on the George Benson Cookbook albums. He has also recorded five CDs with organist Melvin Rhyne, known for his association with Wes Montgomery. In addition, Peter has appeared in groups led by Sonny Rollins, Bobby Hutcherson, George Coleman, David Fathead Newman, Etta Jones and Nicholas Payton.
Current Projects include a solo record, “Solo Guitar – Live at Smalls” in 2013, the albums “Let Loose” w/ Gerald Clayton, Doug Weiss, and Bill Stewart in 2016 and “Signs LIVE!”, featuring pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, in 2017, both released on Smoke Session Records as well as the highly acclaimed organ trio with organist Larry Goldings and drummer Bill Stewart with whom he has released numerous albums and toured world wide for almost 30 years. The most recent releases are “Ramshackle Serenade” (2014) and “Toy Tunes” (2018), both on Pirouet records.
Few guitarists put as much care, sensitivity and subtle strength into every single note as Bernstein does. Among the finest melodists in jazz, he has a full-breadth command of his instrument, but his biggest assets are his knack for crisp understatement and simplicity.
The New York Times
Peter’s an extremely elegant musician with a gorgeous tone that seems to relax you when you hear it.
The Jazz Bakery, Los Angeles
The jazz guitarist, among the most sought after in the New York area, has a feather-light touch, an encyclopedic knowledge of chords and the ability to play standards like he’s inventing them on the spot.
The Los Angeles Daily News
Mr. Bernstein is a fluidly improvising guitarist in the post-bop tradition, with control over harmony and a beautiful sound.
The New York Times
Peter Bernstein produces a warm, ringing, muscular tone which echoes that of such giants as Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, and Kenny Burrell.