Tenor saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi muscles his way through Rigamaroll, his tenth recording for the Savant label, with an improvisational surge that’s sonically thrilling.
This is a superlative straight-ahead hard bop recording intended for modern listeners – Bergonzi’s all original set swings intensely with trumpeter Phil Grenadier on the two-horn frontline and a fiercely responsive rhythm team of pianist Bruce Barth, bassist Dave Santoro and drummer Andrea Michelutti. The opening track, “Awake,” sets the mood with an acoustic ferocity, unpredictable though easy to follow, and illustrates the near magical cohesion of the quintet. Bergonzi’s bold, beefy tenor blended with Grenadier’s feathery trumpet keeps the band roaring ahead as if hopped up on adrenaline, zipping through the tunes with a smooth harmonic confidence and exhilarating resolve. At 67, Bergonzi’s creativity is at its peak. He’s maintained that high level of expression throughout his Savant dates. Whether dipping into noir-ish ballads like “Rise Up” or shifting through high-speed changes on the percussive “A Hankering”, Bergonzi’s chest-thumping quintet will have you believing in the redemptive power of swing at first listen. (8 tracks; 63 minutes)