For his third outing as a leader apart from Tribal Tech, the
band he co-founded with bassist Gary Willis in the mid-'80s and which
remains one of the freshest and most formidable forces in fusion music
today, guitarist extraordinaire Scott Henderson returns to his bluesy
"Just the fact that it's got vocals puts it in another zone from Tribal Tech," says Henderson. "And it's definitely way closer to blues, though it's not traditional blues because the songs aren't strictly 12-bar, i-iv-v forms. It's blues with more changes than what's typical."
While it may not be blues in a Mississippi Delta or Southside
Chicago sense, the music on Well To The Bone will immediately register
with fans of blues rock.
The guitarist applies his sizzling six-string virtuosity to
inspired numbers like the opening "Lady P" and "Devil Boy", both delivered
with bluesy gusto by singer Wade Durham.
Of his apparent ease at shifting gears from Tribal Tech's incendiary fusion to this rootsier blues bag, Henderson says: "Ever since (1994's) Dog Party I've been just really getting back to my roots more, not that I stopped playing jazz, but I just wanted to do this too. I've probably played more blues than jazz since I picked up guitar, even though I've not had much chance to record that side of my playing. So it's nice now to be able to write songs in that direction, record them have people accept them for what they are. Sometimes you get pigeonholed as a certain type of player and then when you make a move doing something else it seems contrived or not heartfelt. But for me, this is the kind of stuff I grew up listening to, so it's very heartfelt."
Henderson adds that the process of methodically layering
multiple guitar parts throughout Well To The Bone is something he has never
attempted before in the studio. "When I started this record it was going to
be a live in the studio trio album, a document of tunes that we've been
playing on the road for a while".
Scott's main axe throughout Well To The Bone was his trusty white Strat made by California luthier John Suhr. For the layering effects he relied on several different guitars, including a Les Paul and a series of Danelectro guitars -- baritone, 12-string and a U3 with three lipstick pickups. He also alternated amplifiers between a Fender Bandmaster customized by Alexander Dumble, an old Marshall '68 100-watt and his traveling Custom Audio amp. "I did a lot of experimentation with combinations of sounds and mic-ing and different things that I'd never really messed around with in the studio before. I had fun with it and I think the sounds and tones that I came up with are my best so far."
Going through the trial-and-error of finding just the right
tones from track to track meant that Henderson ultimately spent more time
twirling knobs in the control room than actually playing. "It was all
pretty new to me, learning about layering and how to make all the sounds
separated in the mix," he explains."I was pretty methodical about tone on
this record .
That marriage of vintage tones, unrestrained bluespower and undeniable talent made a formula for success on Well To The Bone.