BERNIE MORA & TANGENT
No Agenda
(Rhombus Records)

 

Texas-based guitarist Bernie Mora blasts out of the blues for his 2019 album on the California-based Rhombus label. Credited to Bernie Mora & Tangent, the nine cut No Agenda is just that – an album that moves from jazz to jazz-rock fusion with taste and finesse. Assisting Bernie’s well-recorded electric guitars are a range of players, including Charles Godfrey (drums, percussion), Daniel Becker (bass, 12-string acoustic guitar), Doug Webb (sax, flute), Corey Allen (keys) and Lee Thornberg (trumpet, trombone). A full-bodied, all-instrumental set, this fourth album by Bernie Mora & Tangent, No Agenda is contemporary instrumental jazz-rock fusion at its finest. Fans of Blood, Sweat & Tears, Santana and Hendrix will dig this diverse and totally authentic sounding album. No Agenda is dedicated to Bernie’s late, great drummer Doc Anthony, whose drums were used in the recording. There are way too many highlights to single anything out but, with its memorable melody and near baroque sounding trumpet fills, the album's title track is a total blast. Featuring nine tracks of pure guitar energy, No Agenda moves with ease through a range of jazzy, rocky, fusion and even Latin music grooves sure to please just about every instrumental music lover. www.rhombus-records.com

 





mwe3.com presents an interview with
BERNIE MORA


mwe3
: Tell us where you’re from originally and where you live now and what you like about it. What was it like growing up in Texas and what other States do you like and or travel to?

Bernie Mora: I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas and still reside there. It’s a diverse community as we border Mexico and New Mexico. I enjoy New York, L.A. and Hawaii for travel and music.

mwe3: What music were you first excited by and what music did you grow up with? Being that you have so many influences, can you mention some of your favorite influences, bands, guitarists, both then and now? Being from Texas, I would think that the great native Texas guitarists like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Johnny Winter were influential.

Bernie Mora: I was raised on Top 40 as my father had a vending company and supplied juke boxes around town. Of course I loved Johnny and Stevie! I was influenced by so many great artists. Too many to name! I met Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top a few years ago and secured a number two artist proof Les Paul handpicked by him. He has the number one. It’s a great axe! When he signed it for me he said “number one is the test, number two is the best!” He’s such a great player and such a cool cat!

mwe3: The new CD by Bernie Mora & Tangent No Agenda features an amazing blend of instrumental jazz-rock fusion as well as funk and progressive rock. Seems you covered a lot of bases. Did you set out to make an album that jazz and rock instrumental fans could both like?

Bernie Mora: I really don’t know where my songwriting will take me until I secure my rhythm section and begin the process. I did want to cover some different realms and nuances within my creative process… These new songs just came out of me as if they were waiting to be played. I simply can't explain it. I do make a point of keeping my songs interesting since they are instrumental. I have found that being too virtuosic can bore a listener. After I record the rhythm section I bring in the “gunslingers” on horns and keys and turn them loose during tracking.

mwe3: Tell us how you feel No Agenda is different from your earlier album releases and how has your music and musical style changed and evolved over the years? Did you set out to top your best album ever with the new album?

Bernie Mora: I always set out to be better as I learn something new every project. I let Howard Steele, who has great credentials, produce this one and he really brought it all together from tracking to final mix. I couldn’t be happier with this album. It hits on all cylinders!

mwe3: How about this lineup of your band on the new album? Is it the same band you recorded with on your earlier albums, even though your long time drummer Doc Anthony passed away? How would you compare his drumming style with that of your current drummer Charles Godfrey? The drum sound on No Agenda is excellent.

Bernie Mora: I did use the same lineup except for my new rhythm section of Charles Godfrey on drums and Daniel Becker on bass. I had guest players on the last tune. Eric Unsworth on fretless bass and Leilani Low singing a haunting chant. Great players. Doc’s passing hit me hard as he was a great friend over many years as well as a great drummer. Charles insisted on using his kit for recording and did a super job on this album. He had a more youthful energetic style and played them well!

mwe3: Are you a guitar collector and what guitars are featured on the No Agenda album? What pedals do you prefer?

Bernie Mora: I actually have several great guitars. The Les Paul, a custom Strat Elite and a special PRS. These are the three I use the most. I really don’t use pedals. Plug right in! I do a little post production stuff.

mwe3: What takes longer, writing music or recording it in the studio and what was it like having Howard Steele producing the CD? What kind of discussions did you and Howard have about the sound and direction of the recording sessions? Also having your drummer Charles engineering the album must have helped. Maybe that’s another reason why the drumming sounds so great on the disc.

Bernie Mora: Recording is the longest process. Writing is always different. Having Howard Steele produce and Charles Godfrey engineer was a dream! Such great experience from both of them... It was a perfect set of creativity! We really got some great sounds. They were so accommodating to my process of recording.

mwe3: Tell us something about the studio Sonic Ranch that you recorded No Agenda in. I also saw that Marco Ramirez did the co-engineering with Charles and Marco also mastered the album, which is a remarkable achievement in itself. What is involved in mastering an album with this much dynamic sound? Do you also sit in on the mastering sessions?

Bernie Mora: Sonic Ranch is an amazing place to create. It has several tracking and mixing rooms as well as being a residential studio with an impressive array of guitars, amps, and drums... We always stay out there until we are done. No distractions on a huge pecan farm! There is a Mario Ramirez at Sonic who helped engineer. He did some great overdubs for me. There is also a Marco Ramirez who masters off site. I did sit in on the mastering and was so happy to apply all I have learned. It came out perfect!

mwe3: When did you start working with Rhombus Records and how involved were they in the production of the No Agenda album? The cover art and packaging / look of the album came out great.

Bernie Mora: Rhombus was recommended to me by Doug Webb. He lets me run the whole thing and distributes when it’s all done! I have a great relationship with Thom Teresi the owner. He is also a great keyboard player.

mwe3: Is the internet helping your music? What do you like best about the 21st century model for music distribution?

Bernie Mora: It is a different world with the internet now. I am adapting and adjusting as I go. It’s a moving target! Unfortunately hard media is disappearing...

mwe3: As I mentioned, every track is a stand out but the title track “No Agenda” is quite a brilliant work of art! The Baroque sounding trumpets are right out of Penny Lane but the melody and scorching, jaw-dropping riff sounds like a cross between Santana and Clapton. It’s got to be the coolest title track to any song this past year...

Bernie Mora: Thanks! Once we tracked it everyone agreed it was the title cut! Everyone seems to love it… It has a very cool mood...

mwe3: How did recording the album at the Sonic Ranch in Tornillo compare with recording the horn section in Los Angeles? You have raved about the Sonic Ranch on Facebook. Man their recording console looks pretty amazing.

Bernie Mora: Sonic is world class. The horns recorded at a much smaller studio in Pasadena. It all works out fine!

mwe3: How are you planning to market No Agenda in order to maximize the most exposure? It’s very much jazz but for example track 5, the tribute to Doc, “Doc The Clock” sound like a cross between early Yes and Coltrane! I was thinking that progressive rock fans would also really dig No Agenda.

Bernie Mora: Working with all I can in the industry to get it out there man! I like the different reviews I get. Keepin' it real!

mwe3: Where do you get your melodic ideas from and how do you keep your compositional skills sharp and unique sounding? I feel your melodic ideas helps to give you a kind of unique sound in the 21st century guitar world.

Bernie Mora: I just keep plugging along. Sometimes it’s just pounding it out and sometimes it’s a bit mystical. I never know until I get inspired and begin!

mwe3: So now with No Agenda out, what are your next steps moving forward? Can you share any updates and plans about new music composing and recording new music?

Bernie Mora: For now I am letting this one set and gel... I hope to do some performances on the West Coast next year. For now I am just using all the available outlets to get it in everyone’s ears. I love performing and watching people listen to my music!





 

 
   
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