"Chuck is presenting a whole new groove adventure with his "Delta Berimbau Blues"."
King of the Funky Drums
"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."
Author of "Delta Blues"
"Very nice album, quite soulful and terrific-sounding!"
Jazz Master Drummer
"Who would have guessed that a single string steel wire stretched atop a willowy limb hooked up to a hollowed-out gourd could produce so much music? Well, with a little help from friends like Roswell Rudd and George Marsh, percussionist Chuck Bernstein (best known to the jazz world as drummer-leader of San Francisco's acclaimed Monk's Music Trio)has brought the African-Brazilian folk instrument to the fore with a collection of energizing and exotic soundscapes that make the aptly titled "Delta Berimbau Blues" a journey beyond category. From "Plunger in the Funk" and and "Viola Foot Stompin' Blues" to "Dawn in the Delta"
Bernstein and friends are unforgettable!"
(University of Kansas; Downbeat; Jazz Times)
"Every track raises the bar for World Music. You are an original!"
Master Jazz Trombonist
"The origins of bottleneck guitar in the Mississippi Delta came from one-stringed instruments of African origins called Diddley Bows. By creating my own techniques, I have turned the Brazilian Berimbau into a Delta Diddley Bow with a built-in Wah Wah."
Guest Artists: Bira Almeida, Sam Bevan, Dennis Broughton, Greg Douglass,Ian Faquini, Lisa Kindred, Robert Kyle, Paul Ledo, George Marsh, Ricardo Peixoto, "Sister" Debbie Sipes, and featuring very special guest Roswell Rudd.
The Brazilian Diddley Bow
I first got the idea of playing the blues on the berimbau 16 years ago, when I first started playing the instrument. A friend of mine mentioned to me that he had seen Nana Vasconcelos play the berimbau at a concert. At one point during his performance, Nana hit the wire with the baqueta (stick), and then immediately slid it along the wire. Upon hearing that story, the first thing that came to mind were the bottleneck or slide guitarists of the Mississippi Delta...THE BLUES!! Later that day, I tried sliding the baqueta along the wire a few times, but was not very happy with the sound. The main reasons it didn't work was that first, wood sticks don't slide very well, and second, if the wire is too tight, it can't bend enough to get a good blues or sliding sound. At that point in time, I just put the idea of playing the blues on the berimbau on hold.
In 2004, something happened that made it possible to develop the right techniques for turning the berimbau into a unique, new American Blues sound. A neighbor of mine loved making radio-controlled model airplanes. When I told him about the problem I was having with wooden sticks, he suggested that I give him a couple of sticks so that he could put a coating of fiberglass on them. It was an immediate success!! The fiberglass coated sticks made a wonderful sliding sound. I also found that by lowering the tension of the wire, I could get a much better bottleneck,or, "bent note" effect. The real breakthrough came that same year, during the recording of my CD, "Monk's Bones." I had created a berimbau rhythm from the Thelonious Monk tune, "Friday the Thirteenth." After recording the tune, trombonist Roswell Rudd suggested that I add an extended berimbau solo as an introduction to the tune. Taking him up on his suggestion, I went home, and tried out various combinations of bows and gourds. Finally, I found the magical marriage of bow and gourd. At last, I now had a berimbau that could play the blues!
In early 2008, I was doing research on the origins of bottle neck guitar. I found a statement by Robert Palmer in his book, "Deep Blues." He writes, The slide technique was originally associated with an African instrument that has been reported from time to time in the American South, the single-string musical bow." BINGO! As as I read that, I punched in Google on my computer and entered one-stringed musical bows. The results of that search were fascinating. In the South, those bows or instruments are called "Diddley Bows" (that also includes taking a wire, anchoring it, and nailing it to the outside wall of a house). In essence, what I had done was to turn the berimbau into a Bahia Diddley Bow!!!!!
The berimbau is an amazing instrument, and it seems that every time I play it, I discover something new. It can be a very, very seductive, there are times when it literally steals my soul, and puts me in a trance-like state. When that happens, every thing drops way and disappears except for the mesmerizing sound of the berimbau.
"I began to feel the sound everywhere,
reflecting on the water, on the clouds,
on the edge of the earth, resonating
inside my body, vibrating in each portion