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Album Review: Jerry Bergonzi's 'Simply Put'

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Jerry Bregonzi Jazz Saxophone Simply Put Album
Courtesy of Savant
Jerry Bergonzi’s Simply Put (Savant) demonstrates the veteran saxophonist's increasing grasp of musical subtleties. Bergonzi, who is a fixture on the Boston jazz scene, is best known among jazz students. That’s because he teaches at the New England Conservatory, and also because his calculated approach to improvisation tends to be a big hit with theory-hungry college jazz nerds.

On Simply Put, Bergonzi develops his solos with the same precision and structural sensibility one would expect. However, whereas those features of his playing have seemed to be the primary focus on past recordings, here he has mastered them as means to unstintingly cast stirring solos, pensive and unabashed.

In fact, the most striking aspect of Bergonzi’s playing on the album is his tone. With an expansive set of timbral colors at his disposable, he can alternately sound razor-sharp, soothingly warm, or on the verge of igniting. His control is not only sufficient to avoid incineration, but also to conjure up the tones of past saxophonists known for their own fiery playing – particularly Coleman Hawkins, Dexter Gordon, and John Coltrane.

Among the album’s ten tracks, seven are Bergonzi’s originals, and three are old jazz standards: “Dancing in the Dark,” “Come Fly With Me,” and “Out of Nowhere.” He strikes a perfect balance between treatment of these oft-recorded tunes and his own compositions, a testament to his mastery of the jazz language.

Simply Put is a great addition to Bergonzi’s already massive recorded output. With it he proves that his talent – which often goes overlooked in the modern jazz saxophone world dominated by Joshua Redman, Chris Potter, and more recently Mark Turner and Miguel Zenón – is not only still intact, but capable of taking on new depths.

Release Date:

June 16th, 2009 on Savant

Personnel:

  • Jerry Bergonzi – Tenor Saxophone
  • Bruce Barth – Piano
  • Dave Santoro – Bass
  • Andrea Michelutti – Drums

Track List

  1. Mr. MB
  2. Dancing in the Dark
  3. Casadiche
  4. Come Fly With Me
  5. Wipper Snapper
  6. Out of Nowhere
  7. Crossing the Naeff
  8. Transphybian
  9. What If?
  10. Malaga
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