Bernie Chiaravalle (pronounced share-a-velley) isn't exactly a "soul man," but as lead guitarist for Michael McDonald's band, he has played an important role in two of the biggest-selling adult soul albums of the past decade (Motown and Motown II) and an even bigger role in one of that period's most underappreciated discs (Blue Obsession), all the while releasing occasional solo projects.
Raised in Marin County, California in the 60s, Chiaravalle spent over a decade as co-founder of and guitarist for one of that area's most popular rock bands, Logos. He moved to Los Angeles in the mid-80s and became friends with Ambrosia lead singer David Pack. Pack was impressed with Chiaravalle's songwriting and musicianship, and introduced him to McDonald, who hired Chiaravalle as his guitarist in 1988, a role he's held ever since. Along with McDonald and a number of other musicians, he relocated to Nashville in the 90s, as that city developed into the epicenter for the emerging confluence of soul, folk and adult rock.
Chiaravalle took a major role in McDonald's excellent but sadly ignored album, Blue Obsession, which spent more than three years in limbo before being released in 2000. Chiaravalle's contribution of four songs and his guitar and production work (along with the always-wonderful Tommy Sims), helped make the album McDonald's best solo disc and a treasure for the few who found it. He also contributed the beautiful "On This Night" to McDonald's 2001 Christmas album.
During this period Chiaravalle also released two solo albums, 1996's Driven By Desire and 2002's Life As We Know It. And after a three year recording absence, in late 2005 Chiaravalle released Mystery of Love on his own Bernoit Music label.
By Chris Rizik