372

Jerry Bergonzi: Tenor Talk

Jakob Baekgaard By

Sign in to view read count
Talking about the tenor. Talking about the giants. Talking about Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Hank Mobley, Sonny Rollins and Pharoah Sanders. Talking about the people who blew the night into day and the day into night. They were swinging, singing, shouting—always searching deeper into the music.

To play the tenor is to carry the load of tradition, and nobody carries this load more gracefully than Jerry Bergonzi who, like George Garzone, belongs to the category of the unsung giants of our time. However, fame or fortune does not seem to bother Bergonzi; since his shift to the label Savant, the saxophonist is in a period where he is arguably making the best music of his life.

The latest proof of Bergonzi's improvisational genius is Tenor Talk. Backed brilliantly by Dave Santoro (bass), Andrea Michelutti (drums) and Renato Chico (piano), he settles into a program of six originals and a standard.

Gershwin's "Who Cares?" heats things up from the start. Bergonzi caresses the tune with warm velvety tones, occasionally throwing in some raspy breaks, while the rest of the group keep a solid sense of swing that goes straight into the feet.

After establishing the link with the tradition of the standards, the group breaks new ground with six originals by the leader. Highlights include the smoky tribute to Hank Mobley, "Hank," where Mobley's glowing sense of the blues is conveyed truthfully.

"Splurge" finds Santoro introducing a sophisticated groove reminiscent of Joe Henderson's "Inner Urge," and Chico takes some inspirational flights, inspired by Bergonzi's free flowing lines.

Bergonzi's melodic compositions are the perfect vehicle for the group's interaction. Together they master all moods, from relaxed swinging and soft ballads to heated workouts. There is a wonderful sense of ease which, of course, is not easy at all.

One previous reservation about Bergonzi's playing was that it felt too intellectual. He could play so much that he almost played too much. Now, the awe-inspiring inventiveness is grounded in a bodily sense of groove that combines the head and the heart into a kind of storytelling, encompassing the great tradition of the tenor. Bergonzi is truly at a stage in his career where he doesn't need to prove anything at all. It is sufficient, to quote the title, to let the tenor do the talking.


Track Listing: Who Cares?; Hank; Girl Idlig; Soul Mission; Splurge; Wippin' and Waulpin'; Left of Memory.

Personnel: Jerry Bergonzi: tenor saxophone; Renato Chico: piano; Dave Santoro: bass; Andrea Michelutti: drums.

Title: Tenor Talk | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Savant Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read A Night Walking Through Mirrors CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Barry Witherden
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jondo CD/LP/Track Review Jondo
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jazz Flute Traditions CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Flute Traditions
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Nerve Dance CD/LP/Track Review Nerve Dance
by John Sharpe
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Déjà Vu CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts CD/LP/Track Review Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 20, 2017
Read "Dancing Our Way To Death" CD/LP/Track Review Dancing Our Way To Death
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 16, 2016
Read "Manovuotometro" CD/LP/Track Review Manovuotometro
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 24, 2016
Read "Hank Mobley" CD/LP/Track Review Hank Mobley
by Greg Simmons
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson" CD/LP/Track Review Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 2, 2017
Read "Blue Skylight" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Skylight
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 5, 2017
Read "Undertaker Please Drive Slow" CD/LP/Track Review Undertaker Please Drive Slow
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 15, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.