Warren Bernhardt

Last updated
Warren Brooks Bernhardt
Born(1938-11-13)November 13, 1938
Wausau, Wisconsin, U.S.
DiedAugust 19, 2022(2022-08-19) (aged 83)
Genres Jazz, pop, classical
Years active1961–2022
Labels Novus, Arista, DMP
Website warrenbernhardt.com

Warren Bernhardt (November 13, 1938 – August 19, 2022) [1] was an American pianist in jazz, pop and classical music.


Early life

Bernhardt was born in Wausau, Wisconsin. His father was a pianist, leading him to have early childhood exposure to piano, [2] and he learned some rudiments of keyboarding from his friends. At five his parents moved to New York City, where he began studying seriously under varied instructors. After the death of his father in 1952 he suffered a period of depression [1] and quit music for a time then studied chemistry and physics at the University of Chicago. In that city he was exposed to blues and jazz, which influenced the rest of his career.


From 1961 to 1964 he worked in Paul Winter's sextet, which led to his return to New York. Once in New York, he worked with George Benson, Gerry Mulligan, Jeremy Steig and others. He also developed a close relationship with the pianist Bill Evans, who served as a mentor to Bernhardt. Bernhardt released several solo LPs in the 1970s, and eventually became a member of the jazz fusion group Steps Ahead while continuing to work on solo projects. [3] In 1971, he provided the piano accompaniment on the song "Crossroads" by Don McLean.

Bernhardt released jazz and classical recordings over decades, and is also featured in teaching sessions in both audio and video formats from Homespun Tapes.

Bernhardt toured as the musical director with Steely Dan in the United States from 1993 to 1994, [4] and can be heard on Steely Dan's Alive in America album. He has performed with Simon and Garfunkel's Old Friends tour, on Art Garfunkel's solo tours, [5] and can be seen on the Art Garfunkel DVD and HDTV presentation Across America.

In 2009, Bernhardt reunited with his band from 1973, L'Image, featuring Mike Mainieri, David Spinozza, Tony Levin and Steve Gadd. The group performed at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City, toured Japan and Europe, and released the album L 'Image 2.0.

Personal life and death

His father, Larry, was also a pianist. Bernhardt's mother encouraged Larry to teach their son to play piano as a toddler. Bernhardt met his first wife, Susan, in the Catskills, they had a son, Tim. Bernhardt's second wife was Jan, whom he married in 1976, they had a daughter, Nicole.

Bernhardt died on August 19, 2022, of natural causes. [1]


As leader

As sideman

With Kenny Burrell

With Art Farmer

With Tim Hardin

With O'Donel Levy

With Mike Mainieri

With Pat Martino

With Gerry Mulligan

With Jeremy Steig

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  1. 1 2 3 WBGO, (Newark, NJ). "Warren Bernhardt, pianist with Steps Ahead, Steely Dan and other bands, dies at 83". August 24, 2022. Retrieved on August 24, 2022.
  2. Lewiston Evening Journal . "Community Concert Campaign Gets Underway This Week". May 1, 1950, p. 3. Retrieved on July 22, 2013.
  3. Karlovits, Bob. "Steps Ahead meshes fusion rhythms, mainstream jazz". Pittsburgh Press , June 28, 1984, p. C6. Retrieved on July 22, 2013.
  4. Findlay, Prentiss. "Lewis, Dan Brubeck will jazz up festival". The Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.), February 5, 1994, p. 1-B. Retrieved on July 22, 2013.
  5. The Daily Gazette (Schenectady, N.Y.). "Art Garfunkel scheduled for Egg concert Nov. 16". September 28, 2002, p. C6. Retrieved on July 22, 2013.
  6. "Warren Bernhardt | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 September 2016.