Brian Ward

Brian Ward


jazz, funk, R&B, soul and afro-cuban flavors all slathered in a gospel gravy


The Brian Ward Trio consists of Brian Ward on keyboard, Willy Barber on Bass and the always wonderful Reinhardt Melz on drums. This ensemble creates excitement and awe with their superb originals and renditions of 70's era George Duke and Herbie Hancock covers. There are shades of Afro-Cuban rhythms, funk and gospel as well as fusion and straight ahead jazz grooves.  These superb musicians know what to do and are infectiously enthusiastic about the music they share with their audience. 

Brian Ward honed his jazz skills among Portland masters such as Leroy Vinnegar, Stu Cook, John Jensen, Ron Steen, Mel Brown, Eddie Wied and Janice Scroggins. Brian began playing gospel music in African-American churches where he learned the gospel tradition via trial by fire. Using these skills, Brian found his niche accompanying jazz vocalists the likes of Marilyn Keller, Shirley Nanette, Victoria Corrigan and Johnny Martin.

Always striving to learn music from different cultures, Brian played with Ghanaian Master Drummer Obo Addy and his band Kukrudu. Brian also delved deep into the blues tradition with legendary bluesman Curtis Salgado with whom he toured the United States and Canada extensively. Most recently Brian has been exploring the afro-cuban tradition with the Bobby Torres Ensemble and has been touring with Native-American performing artist Karen Therese as well as playing out locally with the popular R&B/ funk band Ocean 503.

Songwriter/producer/bass player Willy Barber has performed with some of the coolest people in the world: Steve Miller, Curtis Salgado, Dan Akroyd, Eric Benet, Ndugu Chancellor, Jim Belushi, Gary Thomas, Tom Arnold, Kiefer Sutherland, Jimmie Vaughan, Trilok Gurtu, Paul Bollenbach, Ricky Wellman, Chester Thompson, Sonny Landreth, Tony Thompson, Pia Zadora, Al Green, Red Rodney, Bekka Bramlett, Duffy Bishop, Tony Furtado, Howard Tate, Bill Clinton, Bill Laswell, Jeff Coffin, Graham Lear, Earl Slick... to name a few.

Reinhardt Melz has spent 18 years as a freelance Drummer/Percussionist and specializes in a myriad of eclectic styles. Past and current artists he has worked with include, Tony Furtado, Reggie Houston, Curtis Salgado, Randy Porter, Bill Beach, Lloyd Jones, Triclops, Ramsey y Los Montunos, and the Bobby Torres Ensemble.

“I chose Reinhardt and Willy to be in this band because their approach, like mine, is based in jazz but not limited to a particular style. There is a synergy between the three of us. Not only do we share the same musical values but, the three of us are hard working musicians, raising young families, so we also share the same personal values. Plus, we have a lot of fun hanging out and playing together.”

On Wonderbread, his first CD as a leader, Brian Ward’s compositions and playing show the breadth of his collective musical experience. Rather than the typical “blowing session”, the band takes an ensemble approach to music where the composition and group sound are featured instead of individual soloists.


Wonderbread CD/DVD- 2006

Set List

Mostly originals, covers include 70's Herbie Hancock, some George Duke, Kenny Kirkland.
We typically do two 75 min. sets which can be pared down to 50 or 60 minutes for festivals.
Ana Maria
Steppin' In It
If You Will
Baby Girl
Wake Up Smell the Coffee
Hang Up Your Hang Ups
Move On
Tell Me a Bedtime Story
Mornin' Walk
Pound Cake
Midnight Silence
Steepian Faith
She Ain't
What Can I Do
Someday We'll All Be Free
Only You Understand
Morning Walk
Stellar Optics