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Published: 2005/08/08
by Matt Brockett

Directions To My House – Will Bernard Trio


On Directions To My House, guitarist and Bay Area fixture, Will Bernard has assembled a traditional jazz trio with acoustic bassist Devin Hoff and drummer/percussionist Ches Smith. While Bernard has dabbled in several genres over the years, fans of his more groove-oriented projects like Motherbug, or T.J. Kirk (with fellow Bay Area prodigy Charlie Hunter) may find themselves waiting for a groove they can really sink their teeth into. That being said, jazz fans in general, and especially fans of experimental jazz, should find plenty to love on Directions To My House.

Bernard plays acoustic, electric, and national steel guitar on this album and his trademark tone and delicate touch are as prevalent as ever. The aptly named "Not Necessarily Stoned" has the drunken swagger feel of being "not necessarily" tipsy, and oozes with the bravado, confidence, and slight confusion that usually accompanies such a state.

Two tunes on the album feature Ellen Gronningen on iolin, "Riddle Me This" and "Hall Of Science," and the note for note interplay between her violin and Bernard's guitars creates an incredibly interesting sound. The twangy spaciness of "Riddle Me This" would be the perfect bizarre soundtrack to a movie scene filled with images of a downtrodden Southern ghetto neighborhood. Parts of "Hall Of Science" evoke the spirit of Live Evil-era Miles Davis, with gritty feedback laden chaos that occasionally finds its way into a solid groove for a moment or two.

Bernard's gift for composition and arrangement is prevalent even in the sleepier minimalist tunes like "Koto," "Whats Left," and the title track. Although the tempo is slow on these songs, and the notes sparse, the music never gets boring or pretentious, which is no small feat by any standards. "Wide Awake" and "Two Hot Dogs & A Strawberry Soda" remind the listener that truly gifted composers can create music that is ethereal and experimental, but still has rocking drums and a multitude of emotions all contained within one song.

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