bio

Bernie Arai’s musical career as a performer, educator, composer and recording artist spans styles through jazz, improvised music, Japanese traditional, and electronic and computer music. On drum set, percussion and electronics, he works with some of Canada’s most accomplished musicians. Born, raised and based in Vancouver, Bernie has performed across the country with various ensembles, and has also toured across the United States, Japan and Europe.

A graduate of Capilano University Jazz Studies, Bernie has amassed a great debt to the educators who helped shape his musicianship during the course of his studies , including Fred Stride (UBC); Brad Turner, Ken Moore, Dave Robbins and Dylan VanDerSchyff (Capilano), Ian Froman and Bill Stewart (NYC).

Bernie's own ensembles include his most recent quartet featuring Skye Brooks (also on drum set), Tommy Babin on bass and Chad Makela on saxophone, a reunion of an electronic/acoustic trio with Chris Gestrin and Jon Bentley (on keyboards, woodwinds and electronics) called New Diversions. Electonic and acoustic ensemble Densabi features Bernie using digital sound synthesis and feedback with Chris Gestrin and shakuhachi master Alcvin Takegawa Ramos to create improvised ambient music. Along with saxophonist Jon Bentley Bernie co-led a hard bop sextet called Ugetsu for over 15 years.Thanks to Vancouver’s supportive scene, Bernie also works with many of the country’s finest musicians as a member of ensembles such as: the Brad Turner Trio, the Hard Rubber Orchestra, the Jennifer Scott Trio, the Ihor Kukurudza Trio, Fred Stride Jazz Orchestra, Sharon Minemoto Quintet and Quartet, the Paul Keeling Trio and Quintet, Tommy Babin's Sendero Luminoso, Altered Laws, and Mimosa.   He remains in demand as an accompanist and band member for many legendary musicians from across Canada and around the world, appearing in concert at numerous music festivals worldwide, and on CBC radio jazz shows. He has had the opportunity to guest host CBC's long running radio show Hot Air on two occasions, once to spotlight the powerful musicianship of Claude Ranger, and once to explore the influence of Canadian jazz on Canadian jazz musicians.


teaching

A dedicated and experienced educator, Bernie continues to teach based in Vancouver, including work as an instructor at the Vancouver Community College School of Music, and as a director of jazz bands at the University of British Columbia Summer Music Institute,.  He has served as instructor in the Capilano College Jazz Studies program, the Phil Dwyer Academy of Music and Culinary Arts, the Douglas College Summer Jazz Intensive, North Shore Summer Jazz Intensive and the Vancouver Creative Music Institute, and also teaches workshops and clinics in local schools for jazz bands and drum set.

see bernie's discography, his performing credits or his list of projects

promo photo available here