Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Bernhardt, Chris (Russell)
Bernhardt, Chris (Russell), bassist, composer, publisher; b. Chicago,IL, 20 July 1971.
His parents are Ron Bernhardt, born October 26, 1943, and Barbara Bernhardt, born January 1,1946. He grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago throughout adolescent years.
Bernhardt took up playing bass guitar at age fifteen playing in a local rock band. Decided to study music at Columbia College, Chicago from1989-95. There he majored in Music Performance where he made the Dean's List, graduated with honors, and was a four time Music Jury Finalist. Was elected by notable scholars Samuel A. Floyd and Dominique-Rene de Lerma for study and research for the Black Music Research Center. Bernhardt's interest in jazz commenced with a viewing of Spike Lees film "Mo Better Blues" and studying of composition from composer William Russo and working in the jazz ensemble unit led by trumpeter Orbert Davis. This led to opportunities of playing with local musicians including saxophonist Ed Peterson.
In 1994, Bernhardt founded the blues-rock band The Buzz. The group, for eight years put out three recordings which sold over 12,000 copies, worked over 150 dates per year in 20 markets, was used for tour support for established booking agencies, such as Monterey International and The Billions Corporation, and did multiple appearances on national and international network television (including the Jenny Jones Show). The band set up a residency as the house band at Buddy Guys Legends, the premier blues club in Chicago. This unique opportunity allowed Bernhardt to play with blues greats such as Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Phil Guy, Sugar Blue, Son Seals, and Lonnie Brooks. Bernhardt also played for various stints with Byther Smith and Studebacker John and the Hawks.
From 1998 until now Bernhardt has concentrated on jazz, forming the group The BMR4. This group consists of Bernhardt (acoustic bass), guitarist Neal Alger ( Patrica Barber), saxophonist Jay Moynihan (Buddy Guy, The Buzz), and drummer Mike Rodbard (Lonnie Brooks, The Buzz).. It is currently playing some jazz clubs in Chicago including Andys and Pops For Champagne.
The Buzz: Lil' Sisters Got The Groove (1994), The Buzz (1996); Highway (1998);
Live At Buddy Guys Legends (2000); Steve Arvey: It's A Fine Line (2000); BMR4: BMR4 (2001); Rhythm Rockets: Take Off (2002)