The BMR4 is a new Chicago jazz quartet that features some of the best players in the city including members of the Buddy Guy,Lonnie Brooks, and Patrica Barber bands. This is their first release: a collection of standards.They make music to reward casual listeners but also challenge the more experienced members of their audience. The instruments, and the individuals who play them, offer another clue to what makes this band attractive. With drummer Mike Rodbard, bassist Chris Bernhardt creates a smooth, easygoing swing broken by clusters of rhythmic turmoil. And in the front line, saxist Jay Moynihan plays with a rough-hewn style and fervent tone that pushes hard against the urban cool of guitarist Neal Alger. Alger is one of Chicago's busiest guitarists, with a particular talent for accompanying vocalists: he spent several years in Patricia Barber's band, and currently works in a duet with vocalist Typhanie Monique (Intrinsic, on Blujazz Records), which has honed his taste for rich, lush harmonies. Perhaps most important, while the members of this band play jazz, they think like rock musicians - for the simple reason that they've all played both idioms throughout their careers. The BMR 4 actually evolved from a blues-rock band called The Buzz, which Bernhardt founded in the late 90s. (BMR = Bernhardt, Monihan, Rodbard.) Rodbard, by then a graduate of DePaul University's School of Music, had already established himself as a respected drummer in a variety of idioms; he eventually hooked up with the internationally acclaimed Lonnie Brooks Blues Band, with whom he continues to perform. Moynihan, who got his degree from the Berklee College of Music, moved to Chicago in the mid-90s and soon joined the bands led by blues stars Buddy Guy and Robert Cray. It's music people can relate to, but jazz folks like them too.
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