Sometimes Netflix does you a favor, like the evening it recommended that I watch the 2005 documentary "Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth" as a streamer. A conservatory trained pianist, Worrell is such an elusive and enigmatic character that this film says little about the man but much about his importance. At the mini-Moog, Worrell was at the heart of the Parliament Funkadelics in all their permutations in the 1970s, at center stage with George Clinton and Bootsie Collins, and that outfit pretty much laid down the beat for today's generation of hip-hoppers. But Worrell moved on to become the core of The Talking Heads' sound in the '80s (think of the keyboard solo in "Burning Down the House") and in a variety of projects that followed, with folks like Buckethead, to push the boundaries of what synth can do. The archival concert scenes are priceless, and the range of Worrell's music - from metrically mad percussion to gorgeous lyricism - utterly defends the film's premise: Why isn't this guy a household name?
- MILTON MOORE