Jerry Bergonzi: Lineage

Hard-bop tenor titan Bergonzi played with Mulgrew Miller, Dave Santoro and Adam Nussbaum in Boston in 1989


Saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi first came to people’s attention during the 70s, in Dave Brubeck’s band. Since then he has established his reputation as a hard-driving saxophonist with a big, full tone who blows freely, straight out of the Coltrane/Rollins school.

Although this 1989 album is under Bergonzi’s name, and is representative of his energetic approach, pianist Mulgrew Miller shares the spotlight with fine solos, especially on the extended version of Inner Urge and on Red’s Blues, where you can feel him almost carving out his choice of notes.

Miller also contributes sensitively to Everything Happens To Me, as does Dave Santoro, a solid bassist and regular associate of Bergonzi at that time. Bergonzi himself begins the ballad warmly, in keeping with the sentiments of Tom Adair and Matt Dennis’s song, but tends to be over-assertive in the middle section, at variance to the mood. However, this is redeemed by his unaccompanied coda at the end.

Miller injects a Latin feel to On The Brink, taking it away from its loose links to Donna Lee, both soloists throwing in a quote from Laura, and the attractive Jones, directed around a bass pattern, has some clear and distinct playing by both Miller and Bergonzi, once again searing and forceful.

There is a good connection between the musicians, although Santoro and drummer Adam Nussbaum tend to have a supporting role, their solos relatively brief – Nussbaum on Inner Urge and Red’s Blues – the latter rather uninspiring – and Santoro given a short look-in at the end of On The Brink.

The album is a reissue of a live recording issued by Red Records in 1989 which also appeared in 1997 on Jazz Masters JZ097.

Inner Urge; Everything Happens To Me; Red’s Blues; On The Brink; Jones (59.09)
Bergonzi (ts); Mulgrew Miller (p); Dave Santoro (b); Adam Nussbaum (d). Boston, 15 October 1989.
Red Records RR123237-2