Riddle Me This

When this Will Bernard Trio disc came around in the ol’ CD changer, I thought for sure I’d been woken by some New Orleans backroom blues band. Turns out to be a crew out of Oakland, but that hardly matters. A blues-jazz-barroom concoction heavy on the guitar and a lounge-y beat, things groove along in general, though tracks like “Riddle Me This” stand apart as being more “out” than some of the rest. The addition of violin deepens the sound world, and the ensemble takes a little more time to breathe, play, and develop rather than run a groove. There’s a head in there, but it hardly becomes the track’s strict road map. All the players throw in their measures of creativity, but personally the real gem is the National steel guitar work.