Chuck Bernstein: Delta Berimbau Blues
Delta Berimbau Blues
Chuck Bernstein (gunga berimbau)
Delta Berimbau Blues (CMB Records 102844)
Composed by Chuck Bernstein & Greg Douglass.
Recorded: January 15, 2008
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
The malleability of the Delta blues tradition has been demonstrated all over the world, from Liverpool to Calcutta. Here Chuck Bernstein adopts the Brazilian berimbau, the one-stringed bow from Bahia, for his cross-cultural explorations. As Shelly Manne once said, the berimbau "is good for many uses: you can hunt with it or smoke it." Well I am not sure about the wisdom of lighting up your berimbau, but clearly you can also play blues on it. Think of it as a South American alternative to the diddley bow, that African-inspired one-string instrument that was the starting point for many Delta blues masters of the past. Bernstein makes the most of his inspired vision of berimbau blues. He claims that he first heard the instrument on a Sergio Mendes record, but anyone listening to this track would think that these guys grew up in some juke joint outside of Clarksdale. Due credit must be given to Bernstein's partner, Greg Douglass, whose outstanding guitar work is responsible for most of the bent thirds on this track. This self-produced CD could easily get lost in the shuffle, but it is a contender for my list of best blues recordings of the year.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia