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 Bernies 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 Bernies 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
Tell us where youre 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. Its a diverse community as we border
Mexico and New Mexico. I enjoy New York, L.A. and Hawaii for travel
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. Its a great axe! When he signed it for me he said number
one is the test, number two is the best! Hes 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 dont 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
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.
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 couldnt 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. Docs 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!
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 dont 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 thats 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
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!
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 its 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. Its 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. Its 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
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
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? Its 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 its
just pounding it out and sometimes its a bit mystical. I never
know until I get inspired and begin!
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 everyones
ears. I love performing and watching people listen to my music!