Album Remarks & Appraisals:
" Talking about the tenor. Talking about the giants. Talking about Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Hank Mobley, Sonny Rollins and Pharoah Sanders. Talking about the people who blew the night into day and the day into night. They were swinging, singing, shouting - always searching deeper into the music.
To play the tenor is to carry the load of tradition, and nobody carries this load more gracefully than Jerry Bergonzi who, like George Garzone, belongs to the category of the unsung giants of our time. However, fame or fortune does not seem to bother Bergonzi; since his shift to the label Savant, the saxophonist is in a period where he is arguably making the best music of his life.
The latest proof of Bergonzi's improvisational genius is Tenor Talk. Backed brilliantly by Dave Santoro (bass), Andrea Michelutti (drums) and Renato Chico (piano), he settles into a program of six originals and a standard.
Gershwin's "Who Cares?" heats things up from the start. Bergonzi caresses the tune with warm velvety tones, occasionally throwing in some raspy breaks, while the rest of the group keep a solid sense of swing that goes straight into the feet.
After establishing the link with the tradition of the standards, the group breaks new ground with six originals by the leader. Highlights include the smoky tribute to Hank Mobley, "Hank," where Mobley's glowing sense of the blues is conveyed truthfully.
"Splurge" finds Santoro introducing a sophisticated groove reminiscent of Joe Henderson's "Inner Urge," and Chico takes some inspirational flights, inspired by Bergonzi's free flowing lines.
Bergonzi's melodic compositions are the perfect vehicle for the group's interaction. Together they master all moods, from relaxed swinging and soft ballads to heated workouts. There is a wonderful sense of ease which, of course, is not easy at all.
One previous reservation about Bergonzi's playing was that it felt too intellectual. He could play so much that he almost played too much. Now, the awe-inspiring inventiveness is grounded in a bodily sense of groove that combines the head and the heart into a kind of storytelling, encompassing the great tradition of the tenor. Bergonzi is truly at a stage in his career where he doesn't need to prove anything at all. It is sufficient, to quote the title, to let the tenor do the talking.
"Jerry Bergonzi, a Bostonian who has been plying his trade for more than four decades, often slips through the cracks when the names of accomplished post-bop tenor saxophonists are bandied about. Rather strange, as Bergonzi has had a notable career as a player/educator that has included quality time with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, among others, and Tenor Talk is the twenty-fifth recording he has made as leader of his own groups. In spite of this, Bergonzi is better known in Europe than in the States, perhaps because he prefers to hang out in his home town (where he teaches at the New England Conservatory) instead of New York City, Los Angeles or other better known jazz/media centers.
Several things should be noted about Bergonzi's tenor style: first, he is fluent without being immoderately derivative; second, he knows how to swing freely, and does so often; third, there's more than a touch of the great Sonny Rollins in his tone and phrasing. This is immediately apparent on the opening number, George Gershwin's "Who Cares?," but maintains throughout, as does Bergonzi's admiration for his other seminal influences, Hank Mobley (to whom the easygoing theme "Hank" is dedicated) and John Coltrane.
After "Hank," the first of Bergonzi's six original compositions, comes "Girl Idlig," a nickname for Bergonzi's daughter, Gabriella; the gently rocking "Soul Mission," Latin-tinged "Splurge" and dark-hued "Wippin' and Waulpin.'" The edgy finale, "Left of Memory," says Bergonzi, is based on the standard "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," but one must take his word for that, as the song's lovely melody is buried deep beneath Bergonzi's panoramic revision.
Bergonzi receives steady support from his working European rhythm section (which includes one American, bassist Dave Santoro). For those who dig tenor saxophone (this writer is one), this isTenor Talk of a high order. While Bergonzi breaks no new ground, he is a sharp and resourceful improviser who always brings his "A" game to the session." - AllAboutJazz
JazzTimes (p.69) - "The star of TENOR TALK is the rhythm section. Pianist Renato Chicco shares Bergonzi's fondness for sharp lines..."
Jerry Bergonzi focuses primarily on his potent originals during this quartet session issued in 2008. Joined by pianist Renato Chicco, bassist Dave Santoro, and drummer Andrea Michelutti, the tenor saxophonist's loping "Hank" (a tribute to Hank Mobley that he previously recorded in an entirely different setting) settles into a comfortable groove, with the band working together rather than settling for tenor plus rhythm section. "Girl Idlig" is named for Bergonzi's daughter, a hip breezy tune that has the spirit of Bill Evans running through it, a piece likely to become an enduring part of the tenorist's live repertoire. "Soul Mission" is a lighthearted work, with Michelutti switching to brushes, while the hypnotic "Splurge" is a twisting post-bop vehicle that was inspired by Joe Henderson's "Inner Urge." The Caribbean-flavored rhythm of "Left of Memory" utilizes the changes of the standard "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," with Bergonzi wailing and Chicco adding an inventive solo. The one standard, George Gershwin's "Who Cares," is the CD's opening track, a pep-filled workout featuring Bergonzi's explosive tenor powered by his driving rhythm section. ~ Ken Dryden