Trumpeter Wayne Bergeron’s Full Circle is, above all else, a soloist’s field day. Joined by no fewer than five different big-band ensembles (recorded from 2012 to 2015), including strings and an array of featured guest musicians, Bergeron uses these 11 tracks to cut loose and blow with all his might, setting the tone for a loud, brash, only occasionally overstated good time.
Full Circle‘s busy arrangements emphasize unison horn lines delivered with equal parts precision and glass-shattering force. This lung-busting approach is most explosive on saxophonist Dan Higgins’ original composition “First Impression,” where pin-tight, double-time ascending brass ushers in mammoth phrases from Bergeron and Higgins’ alto horn. Bill Reichenbach’s peppy bass trombone and fast-fingered, dive-bombing lines from tenor saxophonist Bob Sheppard wring unexpectedly potent juice from the well-worked chestnut “Body and Soul,” and the title track is incandescently ignited by the piercing high notes of trumpeter Arturo Sandoval and crisply executed fills from drummer Dave Weckl.
If there’s any objection to be found with Full Circle, it’s that its foregrounding of full-steam-ahead instrumental energy serves to pull some focus from the few-and-far-between passages of restraint, where the album, and Bergeron himself, are often at their best. The trumpeter coaxes bittersweet brilliance from Gordon Goodwin’s arrangement of Jerry Goldsmith’s Chinatown theme, and on the two-minute intro to Sammy Nestico’s “A Pair of Aces,” he trades phrases with alto saxophonist Eric Marienthal to alternately tender and tough-hearted effect. His burnished tones on “Wayn-ology” exude an easy, unforced grace, and even on the album’s barn-burning closing medley of James Bond themes, Bergeron’s breezy flugelhorn reading of “You Only Live Twice” is the clear highlight. Still, it’s likely that all the bustling intensity surrounding these moments is what helps them stand out so brightly. Call them diamonds in the rush.