Bernie Worrell is best known as an A-list funkateer, but his talents go well beyond the funk arena. A Julliard trained classical pianist, Worrell has also appeared with everyone from Fred Schneider to the Pretenders to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion to Pharoah Sanders and a myriad of Bill Laswell productions (not to mention his association with Talking Heads). Improvisczario is pretty much what the title suggests: these are improvised tracks with a rhythm section of Will Calhoun on drums and Brett Bass on bass. Basically, the rhythm section finds a groove and Worrell plays on top of it but since he sticks to just one keyboard per track, and there are a few guests, there's a nice variety within the format. "New Boss" has a somewhat static, modal groove with Worrell playing some really nice grand piano. He sticks with the baby grand for "Up in the Hills," which starts out with the banjo playing of Phish's Mike Gordon. You can tell these tracks were mostly cut live as you can occasionally hear voices in the background, in this case someone says "I need a talkback mic." Towards the end of the track, Worrell sneaks in a Funkadelic quote then proceeds to get down on piano. "Bass on the Line" is decidedly more funky, with Bass' pseudo-Space Bass leading the way for Worrell's Wurlitzer and the sax and flute work of Darryl Dixon. Switching to some really sick clavinet sounds for the next track, "Dirty" also features the wailing wah-wah guitar work of Warren Haynes (who Worrell has recorded with on several occasions) and a monster bass tone from Brett Bass. Haynes sticks around for "Killer Mosquito," a slower groove with some nice Hammond organ. "OK, You Can Leave Now" has Will Calhoun adding some D&B style drum loops to the equation with some nice conversation between Worrell's Wurlitzer and the treated sax of Dixon. The set closes with "Celeste," featuring the sweet, bell-like tones of the Celeste piano. The track starts slowly before finding its feet, and Worrell adds a couple nursery rhyme quotes into his solo. Those expecting a Funkfest may be slightly disappointed despite the presence of a few funky tracks, but Worrell can't be blamed for the misconceptions of others. Improvisczario is a showcase for his formidable skills as a keyboard player, and on that account it succeeds nicely.
AllMusic Review by Sean Westergaard
feat: Mike Gordon
feat: Warren Haynes
feat: Warren Haynes