Well To The Bone – Scott Henderson
Trios are hard to pull off. It is probably the most difficult
musical conversation, because each musician has to hold up so much of the
music melodically and rhythmically. If you want to hear great trios, check
out Rush, Cream, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, or Double Trouble.
Unfortunately, Scott Henderson's combo doesn't make the cut with their 2002
release "Well to the Bone."
The biggest problem with the record is that it is based in rocking
guitar chops but falls short on group-oriented dynamics. Now, don't get me
wrong: Henderson is a great guitarist because he is able to develop a full
palette of colors without compromising the largely bluesy sound of "Well to
the Bone." Drummer Kirk Covington, although competent, lacks interesting
chops or driving force. Bassist John Humphrey is obviously a skilled player,
but often gets overshadowed by the wailing guitar in the front.
Several tunes drift way beyond patience by blaring away at the same
progression and tempo after a staggering seven or eight minutes. The first
cut on the record comes in at over seven minutes — three of which were
completely indistinguishable from the previous form.
"Hillbilly in the Band," is an unquestionable favorite because it
allows the band to slink along with a Zydeco beat and some sickening guitar
work before it breaks into an uncredited banjo lead halfway through. I am
not sure whether the banjo was produced electronically or played
live, but it sounds wonderfully out of place when the band heightens to a
full fledged electric/blues/funkgrass breakdown.
"Devil Boy" is the closest Henderson reaches to the loosely knit
garage sound of Cream. The bass is awesome and the form is simple but it
loses momentum when it attempts excursions into mundanely trippy zones. In
you forgot, the guitar work is amazing.
The last track, "Rituals," sounds like late 90s Eric Clapton. It is
airy and loose, and chill. There are electronic sounds in the background
which add to a very ambient, almost Floydian sound. Once again, Henderson
commands his instrument nicely, but doesn't come up with anything that
defines his group approach.
One interesting note of the album is the addition of electronic
percussion, which adds some funky layers to several of the tunes. The best
part of "Well to the Bone" is that you can tell that Henderson and his group
tried for something new. It ultimately falls short of legendary because the
songs go on too long and fail to develop anything solid in the jamming. They
would win my accolades live and might be worth checking out sometime on the