Jerry Bergonzi : Nearly Blue Review, One amazing Cat
Jerry Bergonzi is back with another impressive collection of standards and original tunes on his new release called Nearly Blue on Savant Records. Bergonzi is a living legion; his discography documents his inventive harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic playing, both through his compositions and his re-worked standards. Joined by Renato Chicco on Hammond B-3 and Andrea Michelutti on drums, the three explore ten tracks consisting of three Bergonzi originals and seven standards. Bergonzi explains, “I just adore the melodies of these tunes. I love standards. People always tell me, ‘Man, you’ve got to make more records like this, and I’m happy to oblige.”
“How About You?” is performed at a relaxed medium swing tempo, giving Bergonzi plenty of room to harmonically and rhythmically explore the harmonic and melodic relationships of the tune. Hearing Bergonzi perform on medium-tempo songs is always a treat. His sense of time and phrasing is seemingly unlimited, whether playing quarter notes or flurries of sixty-fourths, Bergonzi is always dead center and in focus. His notes and command of sounding out chord substitutions are monumental; few can match his clarity, and fewer can play both vertically and horizontally with such melodic focus.
Bergonzi’s original “Tectonic Plates” is included in the set. The tune was first heard on Three for All. Here, Bergonzi dazzles with his melodic conjurings from a chord progression that is continually shifting. The form is also an unusual twenty for measures in length. What holds the compositions together is Bergonzi’s melodic prowess. Weaving out melodies that are harmonically grounded with shapes the emphasizes the tension and release, Bergonzi makes the ever-shifting landscape stable and music satisfying.
Nearly Blue is a relaxed exploration by Bergonzi, his command and ability to avoid stereotypes is apparent for the first to the last note of each selection. Chicco and Michelutti are supportive, interactive, and understand the master’s ability to lead through a musical composition. Bergonzi prominent warm tenor saxophone sings on this date, get it now!
February 28, 2020