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Welcome to Philadelphia Jazz Project

Mysterious Traveler - Bernard Samuel


Bernard Samuel is a Philadelphia-based pianist with a "personal touch." He began playing while attending college, and has been, constantly developing his skills, style and gaining experience over the years. Drawing from the influences of R&B vocal groups like The Harptones and The Temptations, as well as the lyrical musical styling’s of great jazz pianists, the likes of Hank Jones, Red Garland, Tommy Flanagan and Kenny Barron. Bernard Samuel mixes all of these influences to forge a style that's all of his own.

Mr. Samuel work was described by Philadelphia Inquirer contributing writer, Francis Davis, as "hard speedy rhythmically punchy, yet metrically free." Samuel has performed with such great artists as; Hank Mobley, Philly Joe Jones, Cecil Payne, Carl and Earl Grubbs ("The Visitors"), Roy Brooks, Jimmy Merritt, Tyrone Brown, Bootsie Barnes, Duck Scott, Johnny Lytle, and George V. Johnson Jr. For many years, Bernard Samuel worked with the legendary saxophonist Little Jimmy Oliver. One of his original compositions, "Waltz for My Lady", was chosen, by Jazz radio station, WRTI 90.1FM to be part of the “Philadelphia Jazz Showcase CD Compilation, Volume I" in February 1996. Mr. Samuel currently performs nightly with duo’s, trios or quartets at various hotels, restaurants and jazz clubs., as well as private affairs throughout New York, Philadelphia, and the Mid Atlantic region.

Pianist, Bernard Samuel will be our next guest artist in the Mysterious Traveler Concert Series.


Mysterious Traveler 2 - Great Migrations

November 23, 2015 - 7PM | Bernard Samuel

Parkway Central Library | Montgomery Auditorium
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189

All events in this series are FREE.


We spoke with him about his work.


PJP: Can you briefly describe your musical direction?


Bsams1Bernard Samuel: A musical raconteur if you will. I’m trying to tell musical stories, utilizing simple melodic phrases, various rhythms and with a deep sense of swing. I am always trying to create a sense of love and caring. Popular standards, jazz tunes and original compositions are the means of expression for these stories.


PJP: What and whom are pivotal musical influences on your creative approach?


Bernard Samuel: Growing up in Philly, hearing the vocal groups singing on the corners in the various neighborhoods was the first influences. Then listening to the vocal groups of 1950’s on the radio. (The Harptones, the Spaniels etc.) The lyrics of Smokey Robinson, The melodic and rhythm fluency of Bird, (Embraceable You Take II), all of Miles Davis, Bud Powell, J. Coltrane’s, Prestige recordings (Invitation etc.), The swinging of Reds Garland, Ahmal Jamal, Jackie. Maclean, Betty Carter and Art Blakey.


PJP: How do you manage the task of creating and encouraging fresh, new, forwarding moving musical ideas, while simultaneously exploring, celebrating and documenting the past?

Bernard Samuel: Constant practice, playing/performing and research helps me to move toward the goals of creating, exploring, celebrating and documenting. I also find that the lessons learned rising and managing a family helps me.


PJP: When listening to your music, what advice would you give to audiences to assist with greater understanding and enjoyment?



Bernard Samuel: I hope that I wouldn’t have to give any listening advice. I would rather the music speak for itself. But if urged I would say, that I strive for a simple melodic and rhythmic approach with a great sense of passion.



PJP: Why Jazz? When you could be doing anything else, why jazz?

Bernard Samuel: To jazz or not to jazz - that is not the question, it’s whether to Swing or not to Swing - that is the question. Why is Swing Important? Because it’s a feeling that says in spite of it all, everything is Cool/Ok.



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