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Jerry Bergonzi: Convergence

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This is a continuation of Simply Put and Three for All, Jerry Bergonzi’s previous two Savant albums. Convergence contains the same personnel (bassist Dave Santoro and drummer Andrea Michelutti, with pianist Bruce Barth listed on two tracks) and the same industrial-strength tenor saxophone playing. Bergonzi also overdubs soprano sax on certain melody statements and solos now and then on the instrument. Except for “I’ve Got a Crush on You,” the tunes are all Bergonzi originals.

Bergonzi’s tenor playing is full of strong tonal manipulations and colors, forceful articulation (reminiscent of Sonny Rollins) and drummerlike rhythms. The piano-less tracks certainly lend themselves to Bergonzi’s hyper-rhythmic approach, as Santoro and Michelutti often adopt a straight-ahead lumpy groove that evokes those played by Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones in Trane’s classic quartet. Barth appears on the title track and “Squid Ink,” the latter featuring the two-horn hookup.

The teacher in Bergonzi-he’s on staff at New England Conservatory and an important clinician-seems to underlie many performances. It’s as if he’s saying, here is a jazz challenge to be solved or a tactic you can use, and here is how it’s done. There is his expanding and contracting solo line on “Ddodd,” his ever-evolving thematic solo on “Mr. Higgins” (for Billy, not Henry), his swinging melody statement on “I’ve Got a Crush on You,” the melancholy tonal dips and falloffs in “Silent Flying.” … Being taken to school is rarely this thrilling.

Originally Published