(Jerry Bergonzi, tenor sax; Renato Chicco, piano, Dave Santoro, bass; Andrea Michelutti, drums)
Jerry Bergonzi’s initial effort for Savant Records is a fine mixture of the robust tenor sax man’s original compositions (with the sole exception of the standard You’re My Everything) done in a post bop fashion. Bergonzi has a tone somewhat similar to Sonny Rollins or Joe Lovano – being full bodied and aggressive. Bergonzi recorded with Dave Brubeck in the 1970s before settling back in the Boston area where he grew up. Today he has a parallel career as a jazz educator and serves full time on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music.
Bergonzi’s band mates, although not household names, acquit themselves well on this issue. Bassist Dave Santoro is also a jazz educator, teaching at Berklee School of Music. The other members are European, with Andrea Michellutti from Italy on drums and pianist Renato Chicco, who lives and teaches in Austria. They play together like a well-oiled machine.
The track selection is an interesting mix – the Latin tinged Acookarache; Bob Berg, a tribute to the late tenor sax player who passed away a few years ago in a traffic accident; the leader’s fast paced Skull Shining, which is a contrast to The Tomb, an introspective piece with a nice piano solo by Chicco and a searching Pharoah Sanders like Bergonzi performance. Also enjoyable is Bergonzi’s Stumbelina, in which all the musicians mix well, with Jerry up front setting a rapid-fire pace.
If you like your tenor players with “bite”, then Jerry Bergonzi is for you. Tenor of the Times shows that the faculty teacher can show his class that post bop is not just an idiom for the younger jazz musician. Jerry can take off and run with the best of post bop generation.
Tracks: Acookarache, You’re My Everything, Bob Berg, Cadiz, Stumbelina, Skull Shining, The Tomb
— Jeff Krow