Chuck Bernstein: Contenda




Chuck Bernstein (berimbau)


Delta Berimbau Blues (CMB Records CB 102844)


Chuck Bernstein (berimbau),

Robert Kyle (tenor sax), Ian Faquini (guitar)


Composed by Guinga-Thiago Amud


Recorded: Berkeley, CA, November 12, 2007


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

Most of Delta Berimbau Blues trends toward the sounds of the delta blues as played by Chuck Bernstein on the Brazilian one-stringed instrument the berimbau. (To read more about the berimbau, see my review of Bernstein's "Kindred Spirits.") Ted Gioia,'s resident delta blues expert and author of the book Delta Blues, has favorably reviewed the album's title cut, so I'll defer to him as to how close Bernstein's jazz- and folk-influenced blues hew to the tradition or whether that even matters. But in playing with a bow and stone, Bernstein has certainly found another good use for this unusual instrument.

"Contenda" is the CD's most obvious jazz tune. Bernstein's berimbau serves as bassline and rhythm backing. Acoustic guitarist Ian Faquini provides some beautiful accompanying chords and slowly played arpeggios. But the star of this cut is the melody itself and how tenor saxophonist Robert Kyle plays it. A lovely jazz ballad performed with restraint and taste, this is one more reason you should check out Bernstein's fine album.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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