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Jerry Bergonzi: Lost in the Shuffle

Bergonzi’s speech-like tenor saxophone, Dan Wall’s dark, smoldering organ, and Adam Nussbaum’s interactive drums are not your typical organ trio. The sound is more reminiscent of the late drummer Tony Williams’ 1969 trio Lifetime (with guitarist John McLaughlin and organist Larry Young), although the guitar and the rock influences in that group are absent in the Bergonzi group.

Bergonzi can do almost anything with the tenor: slithery, Lovanoesque runs; gruff overblowing; climactic altissimo notes; swirling, Joe Henderson-like volleys; plaintive lines and tones a la Charles Lloyd out of Coltrane; and hot, Brecker-ish licks. Wall’s oblique, chromatic approach is closer to Young’s style than to the bluesy, Jimmy Smith style. At times, he is spare, subtle, and mysterious; at others, he bursts out with busy, whirling lines or jackhammer runs. Nussbaum suggests a combination of Max Roach and Elvin Jones. Except for “Have You Met Miss Jones?” the tunes are Bergonzi originals. The performances are a refreshing alternate to the usual fare from groups with this instrumentation.

Originally Published