Born in Brooklyn, New York, Al Ward is the first of identical twins. The second Ward, J.C., is a bassist.
Al got his first guitar when he was about 11 years old. He was inspired by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Eric Clapton, BB King, Jeff Beck, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, but also the jazz of Coltrane, Miles Davis, George Benson, Wes Montgomery, just to name a few.
After practicing and playing in various bands in and around the New York area, he joined his brother in the group The Shades of Joy, established in Connecticut. They toured many years before arriving in Montreal. They played at the Rockhead’s Paradise, and were also the first house band at the Rising Sun. A fire claimed all their equipment and all of their dreams, at the time. “We had everything we needed to make it,” Al said after the fire, “except insurance.”
After the incident, Al and J.C. formed Foreign Funk, a five piece all original group, and took it back to New York, where they were periodically managed by D*** Scott, owner of The New Kids on the Block.
Al then turned his guitar to jazz with the band Hannibal & the Sunrise Orchestra, produced by Teo Macero, Columbia Records legend and Miles Davis’ producer for 15 years. They played the Bottom Line, The Bitter End, and clubs of that level, and recorded two albums. After Al made his mark on the New York scene, he returned to Montreal to play with the trio The Best of the Platters, featuring Goldie Alexander and Nina Dunn. In the years to follow, Al would loan his guitar licks to many bands: reggae with Mango, blues with Big Mama Thornton, dance music with Jimmy Rae & Katmandu, good ‘ol rock’n’roll with Jenny Rock and he shared Carl Tremblay’s R&B bag. Later, Al would co-create The Affinity Orchestra (TAO) with drummer Graham Chambers while touring in and around Montreal.
Al and J.C. would later get back together to organize Motown Reviews at the Rising Sun, backing the likes of Alma Faye Brooks, Geraldine H***, Willie Ray and Royal Flush. They also hosted many Blue Monday jam sessions until the first Ward Brothers Band played at Club Soda with Junior Walker.
The 1988 Labatt Blues Summit was launched by the Ward Brothers Band at the Spectrum featuring Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. The Wards would also open the shows of Junior Walker at Club Soda and later, BB King. A few months later, in July, at the ninth Festival International de Jazz of Montreal, the Ward Brothers played with their ten piece band on the Labatt Blues stage and at Club Soda. Later that same year, they joined the Harrison brothers (Jacques and Bob) and formed the Harrison-Ward Band working in Montreal, Eastern Townships and Quebec City.
During those years Al also tried his hand behind the scenes and taught himself sound engineering. While doing sound for bands, he elevated himself to the point of building his own recording studio. Following this, Al devoted much of his time to composing and performing with his blues-rock trio composed of himself, bassist Rhonda Smith and drummer Bones Jones.
Then two new experiences came for Al: club owner and actor. He became one of the owners of Blazz, a Montreal blues-jazz club on St. Denis Street, and played the part of the young Bo Diddley in the movie Eddie and the Cruisers II, a major motion picture directed by Jean-Claude Lord and produced by Tony Scotti.
In 1991, Al Ward, alias MC Double Edge, entered the Rap era with his first release “Double Edge Slammin’,” followed later by “House Party.” After arriving in France in 1993, he jammed with musicians Bernard Allison, Lucky Peterson, and Kenny Neal. Al formed a new band with French musicians: Al Ward in Time Limit, which toured in France for different festivals.
At the same time, Al created an association with two of his students, Didier Guillot & Stephanie Rodriguez: “4 Seasons Blues,” promoting blues in France through radio shows, seminars on blues history, guitar classes, master classes (in CIAM) and the production of the first Blues Festival on Bassin d’Arachon (next to Bordeaux). For the festival, Al gathered local musicians (Mephisto, Crazy Legs, General Store, Spooku Jam, & Double A) and international talent such as Jim Zeller and Philippe Lejeune.
Shortly after touring with Zeller and Lejuene, Al recorded his sixth album: “Wish Only Well.” Al now dedicates his time to the students of his music school in Hendersonville, TN and performs locally around the Nashville area.
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Thanks for adding Solomon as a friend. Your bio was fun reading. When you R in NYC, plz come see a reflection of yourself at the onstart, & other great guitarist, in this young man, at the COTTON CLUB. It is the best show in Harlem! see: *youtube videos @ Madison Square Garden 4 the NY Knicks v Wizards. Serious Blues riffs in the 1 + 1/2 min. given. * google his name for articles or myspace.com/kingsolomon7865. His 1rst CD out in spring.Holly (MOM)
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