Tenor saxophonist, Jerry Bergonzi, is an internationally recognized jazz performer, composer, author and educator. His music is renowned for its innovation, mastery, and integrity. Relentless drive, inner fire, total command, awesome technique, elastic lyricism, rich resonance, world-class, a musical visionary, are among the rave reviews credited to his sound. Bergonzi's music has been applauded throughout the world at festivals, concert halls, and jazz venues and his dedication to jazz music has been well documented by an extensive discography.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Bergonzi became interested in music early on. He started playing clarinet when he was eight years old listening to Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Lester Young. His uncle, who was a jazz musician and lived upstairs, used to write out solos for him to play. At twelve years old he got his first saxophone, an old Conn alto, and a year later when a friend introduced him to Miles, Coltrane, and Sonny Rollins, there was no turning back! At thirteen, Jerry was already playing gigs with a band called The Stardusters. During his high school years he switched to tenor, and in addition to weekly sessions with Berklee College students, Jerry also played in John LaPorta's youth band. He recalls, "It was a great experience, I learned so much, John would tell you like it was. He'd let you know what your shortcomings were, he would stop the band to tell you! "Bergonzi attended Lowell University but left after one year because he was continually being thrown out of the practice rooms for playing jazz. "If I had heard me practicing in one of those cubicles I might have thrown myself out!" he adds. He and fellow student, Charlie Banacos, used to begin their day in the practice rooms at 6:00 am. After a year at Berklee College, he returned to Lowell for financial reasons and graduated in 1971. He then played bass in local bands behind singers, strippers, and comedians, saving up enough money to move to New York City in 1972.
During 1972 and 1978 Bergonzi lived in New York City and experienced what he considers his real college education. There, where he had a third floor loft and friend and bass player, Rick Kilburn, lived on the first floor, was the scene of many sessions. "Often, there was one drummer, one bass player, and five saxophone players!" Bergonzi remembers. "Sometimes I was the drummer, each guy would tell a friend, everyone was hungry to play and it was great experience." Joe Lovano, Steve Slagle, Billy Drewes, Paul Moen, Pat LaBarbera, Dave Liebman, John Scofield. Mike Brecker, Bob Berg, Tom Harrell, Steve Grossman, and Victor Lewis were a few of the many players who came to play.