Brooke Sofferman featuring Jerry Bergonzi: The Green Between (2002)
Brooke Sofferman second album as a leader, and first for the Arizona-based Summit record label, deals strictly with the compositions of the drummer/leader. Showing significant compositional awareness, the tunes cut a wide swathe of rhythmic and harmonic invention, including reggae, blues, swing and ballad. The latter musical species is well represented by a lovely, pensive "Sunbird". The contributions to this session by Sofferman's playmates, especially tenor sax man Jerry Bergonzi and Phil Grenadier's trumpet, are well documented on this track. Both in solo state and in interaction with each other, this duo casts a wide net of musicality with this piece which well could be the musical theme for a film noire. The artistry of singer Abby Aronson, who appears on two tracks, and guitarist Norm Zocher, is brought to bear on another ballad with somewhat more tension, "So It Began". This track also features compelling call and response between Aronson's wordless vocalizing and Bergonzi's tenor, creating a tingling of the spine effect. The title tune, "The Green Between" is a swinging reggae highlighted by swirling ensemble playing driven by Sofferman's drums. Bergonzi forsakes the warm tone employed on the ballads for a crisp, biting attack on this cut. The rather strangely named "Phlegm & Yawn" opens, as so many of these contemporary tunes do, with the players sounding as if they're warming up, before kicking into an up tempo romp with creative modern jazz overtones. There's good interaction between Zocher and the piano of Jacques Chanier before Bergonzi leads everyone into the land of dissonance.
Irrespective of what's coming out of the speakers at any given point on this CD, it's clear that Sofferman is dedicated to the principle that the melody's the thing, maintaining this philosophical position throughout the 72 minute session. It's all fine stuff and recommended. Visit Brooke at www.brookesofferman.com.
Track Listing: The Green Between; Mt. Desert Isle; Sunbird; Cement Truck Blues; Phlegm & Yawn; Zoe Moon*; Crownestula; Across the Crebix; Cut It Back to Half, Jack; So It Began*; Barefoot
Personnel: Brooke Sofferman - Leader/Drums/Percussion; Jerry Bergonzi - Tenor Saxophone; Phil Grenadier - Trumpet; Norm Zocher - Guitar; Jacques Chanier - Piano; Thompson Kneeland - Bass; Abby Aronson - Vocal*