Jerry Bergonzi: Eternal Student
AAJ: Dave Brubeck is always mentioned as one of your most important influences, and nobody talks about your special connection with drummer Elvin Jones.
JB: Brubeck was probably the most famous person who hired me, but he is not my passion. You know, I love Dave as a person but his music wasn't my direction. When I was young I went to the record shop and I always bought the records where Elvin Jones was on because they were the ones I really loved, it didn't matter who the leader was. I just loved those records. So yes, he has been the biggest influence on me.
AAJ: So you chose the earth element.
JB: Yes, yes! The groove element: earth, Earth Jones.
AAJ: Many critics have said that your latest album, Shifting Gears (Savant, 2012), is a look at the '60s.
JB: No. I know people say that, people that reviewed the album said that about the '60s. If, for them, it is a back to the '60s, fine. But to me I am in the present tense, I am developing music and playing some new conceptions there that we do and to me it's completely different. But if it is the way that somebody hears it that's ok too.
AAJ: So what, then, is Shifting Gears ?
JB: Shifting Gears is a lot of improvisation. There's a lot of improvisation that not only has the regular eighth and sixteenth notes, but different quintuplets, septuplets, and things like that; polyrhythms that go on in a linear line that, to me, has an impact on my music.
AAJ: Why did you choose trumpeter Phil Grenadier for the date?
JB: This is the first time in a long time that I did a record with another horn player, a trumpet player. And, maybe, in that way, it is going back to the '60s: a tenor and a trumpet in the frontline. Philip is a good friend of mine, we play gigs together all the time. He's a fantastic trumpet player, I love the way he plays. We really kind of vibrate in the same direction.
AAJ: And what's your future direction?
JB: I just think about the music and I say to myself, "Wow, we are going to play the drums right now," or the piano. Just to have fun. That keeps me in the present. I don't know why, but I love to do it and I can't imagine myself doing anything else.
Jerry Bergonzi, Shifting Gears (Savant, 2012)
Jerry Bergonzi, Tenor Talk (Savant, 2008)
Jerry Bergonzi, Tenorist (Savant, 2007)
Jerry Bergonzi, Tenor of the Times (Savant, 2006)
Jerry Bergonzi, Live Gonz! I (Double-Time, 2003)
Jerry Bergonzi, Dreaming Out Loud (Whaling City, 2003)