Jerry Bergonzi quartet at the Pizza Express Jazz Club

2018 review. ‘Double Bill’, a two-key reharmonisation of ‘Blue and Green’ opened for the first of this two-house Friday night appearance. One of the first things that the Gonz did when he got on to the stage was sip on a glass of red wine: the next …

Published: 10 Nov 2019. Updated: 2 years.

2018 review. ‘Double Bill’, a two-key reharmonisation of ‘Blue and Green’ opened for the first of this two-house Friday night appearance. One of the first things that the Gonz did when he got on to the stage was sip on a glass of red wine: the next more significant thing a tune later, Jobim’s ‘Wave’ as it happened, was to roll up his sleeves.

Pianist Bruce Barth came into his own in his later solo spot in the segue from Monk’s ‘Light Blue’ into Billy Strayhorn’s ‘Daydream’. The Pizza roused to a rollicking account of John Coltrane’s ‘Moment’s Notice’, and then the ultimate ballad ‘Body and Soul’, the Gonz, hair slicked back, boyish smiles lighting up the place as the set went on, not one to stand on ceremony even quipping as he introduced the encore “Someone I know calls it ‘Buddy and Sol’. I’ll refer to that someone by his initials — ‘Adam Nussbaum'!”

Barth plus the evening’s bassist Mark Hodgson and drummer Stephen Keogh who have been touring extensively with Bergonzi accompany bebop legend Charles McPherson on Sunday at Ronnie Scott’s. It is quite a team. However, Bergonzi owned the house on this occasion and I guess added another storey to the heights later in the evening. One to be engraved on my memory of great nights in this marvellous Soho basement, and the bar is set very high, pretty much immediately. pic/text: marlbank

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Bill Frisell, Harmony, Blue Note

Someone needs to do a ph.D or fill several books on Bill Frisell to even scratch the surface given the size of his discography and range of collaborators. He has a prodigious output, unique style and his sound reaches far beyond jazz into Americana …

Published: 10 Nov 2019. Updated: 19 months.

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Someone needs to do a ph.D or fill several books on Bill Frisell to even scratch the surface given the size of his discography and range of collaborators. He has a prodigious output, unique style and his sound reaches far beyond jazz into Americana and popular music often spinning several plates at once.

That Americana aspect is significant here on the Lee Townsend-produced Harmony recorded in a Portand, Oregon, studio. Guitarist Frisell is joined by Charle Haden's daughter vocalist Petra Haden, the cellist/vocalist Hank Roberts and guitarist/vocalist Luke Bergman. The material stems from a FreshGrass Music Festival commission.

Verdict? Well if you are not into Americana skip this one because its influence is all-pervasive and cloaks the sound entirely. Having said that and writing pretty much as a neutral neither loving the style nor hating it, Petra Haden's voice is compelling and the songs have a faraway character that contributes to a lot of appeal. Pick of the whole thing? That's easy, the poetic 'Deep Dead Blue' written by Bill Frisell with lyics by Elvis Costello harking back to a 1990s collaboration. There is certainly lots to study on this considered approach. Patience is rewarded by doing just that. SG

Photo: Monica Frisell