Jerry Bergonzi

Jerry Bergonzi is a jazz composer, performer, educator, and author. His music is known for its originality, mastery, and integrity. His music has received rave reviews for his unwavering drive, inner fire and total command as well as incredible technique, elastic lyrics, rich resonance, musical visionary status, and an endless drive. Bergonzi’s music is well-received at jazz venues, festivals, and concert halls around the globe. His dedication to jazz music can be seen in his extensive discography, which includes over 150 sides. Bergonzi was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He became interested in music at an early age. When he was eight years of age, he began playing clarinet and listening to Lester Young, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie. His uncle, a jazz musician who lived upstairs, would write solos for him. He was twelve when he bought his first saxophone, an older Conn alto. A year later, a friend introduced him Miles, Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. Jerry began playing with The Stardusters at the age of thirteen. He switched to tenor in high school and, in addition to weekly sessions at Berklee College, Jerry was also a member of John LaPorta’s youth band. He recalls that it was a great experience. John would tell him what it was. He would let you know your weaknesses, and he would interrupt the band to tell them! “Bergonzi was a Lowell University student, but he left the university after just one year. He felt constantly thrown out of jazz practice rooms. He adds, “If I’d heard you practicing in one those cubicles, I would have thrown myself out!” Charlie Banacos (a fellow student) used to start their days in the practice rooms at 6:15 am. He graduated from Lowell in 1971 after spending a year at Berklee College. After playing bass in local bands with strippers, comedians and singers, he saved enough money to move to New York City, in 1972. Bergonzi spent the years 1972 to 1978 in New York City, where he received what he considered his college education. The scene of many sessions was there, where he lived in a loft on the third floor with Rick Kilburn, his friend and bass player. Bergonzi recalls that there were often only one drummer and one bass player. There were five saxophone musicians. “Sometimes, I was the drummer. Each guy would tell another friend. Everyone was hungry to play, and it was great experience.” Joe Lovano. Steve Slagle. Paul Moen. Pat LaBarbera. Dave Liebman. John Scofield. Mike Brecker and Bob Berg, Tom Harrell and Steve Grossman were just a few of many who attended. Bergonzi was a member of Two Generations of Brubeck, and gained international recognition. From 1973 to 1975, the group featured Dave Brubeck, his children, Darius, Chris and Danny. Also, Perry Robinson played clarinet, and Mad Cat Ruth played harmonica. Their music was praised at Carnegie Hall, London’s Royal Festival Hall, Alexander’s Palace, Lincoln Center and the Hollywood Bowl, among other venues. Bergonzi returned to Boston in 1977 and began gigging five nights per week at various local venues, including Michael’s Pub (1369 Jazz Club), Pooh’s Pubs, Ryles, and Sunflower. Bergonzi says, “It was exactly the thing I needed at that time.” “Making a statement on tunes in front of an audience it a lot more difficult than playing a jam session. Con Brio was formed during this time. The group included Bruce Gertz as bassist, Jeff Williams and Bob Kaufman as drummers, Eric Gunnison as pianist, and Mike Stern and Mick Goodrick respectively, who have continued to play the band throughout the years. Six records were recorded for Not Fat Records at that time. These records showcased Bergonzi’s ability as a composer. He has nearly one hundred tunes that he has recorded and registered with ASCAP. His most recent compositions are included in a play-along book published by JameyAebersold. Five of his tunes can also be found in Chuck Sher’s All-Jazz Real Books. Bergonzi was also a member of the dynamic trio, Gonz. Gertz played on drums, and Bob Gullotti played bass. When they brought in George Garzone (a Boston-based saxophonist) and John Lockwood (bassist for The Fringe), Gonz became Gargonz. Jerry was in Boston’s jazz scene when Dave Brubeck called to ask if he would like to rejoin his quartet. From 1979 to 1981, Jerry toured around the globe with the Dave Brubeck Quintet. Between stops, the group recorded Back Home and Tritonis for Concord Records. Bergonzi began his education career in the 80’s. In the early 80’s, he established a private practice where he taught all instruments how to improvise. He also developed the systems in his series called Inside Improvisation. Advance Music published six volumes that Bergonzi describes as a practical guide to getting inside the creative imagination. He is an internationally acclaimed educator and a professor at New England Conservatory. Bergonzi also travels extensively throughout Europe and the United States as a clinician and performer. He has taught master classes at Berklee College of Music and North Texas State University. Eastman College, Berklee Jazz School, Paris Conservatory, Eastman College, Eastman College, Eastman College, Eastman College, Eastman College, Eastman College, Eastman College, Paris Conservatory, Taller de Musicos, Madrid, S.A.C.A.E. Adelaide, Australia, as well as jazz conservatories in Pitea, Haperanda and Oulunkyla (Finland), to name a few. Bergonzi’s career changed in the mid-to late 1980’s as work in Boston became less plentiful and work abroad more abundant. The recording industry also began to change. His first discography included the acclaimed quartet album, Standard Gonz, which Bergonzi released for Blue Note Records. Blue Note Records recorded him again with Joey Calderazzo, on To Know One and in The Door. Bergonzi maintained his connections with many musicians in the New York and Boston jazz scene, but he also formed many international associations that led to many musical collaborations. Red Records, an Italian label, was Bergonzi’s greatest supporter. Jerry says that Red Records was the first to truly believe in his music. Four CDs were released with Bergonzi leading the charge, including Lineage, which featured Mulgrew Miller, Dave Santoro and Adam Nussbaum. Later, Jerry played with Red Record’s all-stars Kenny Barron and Bobby Watson. He also appeared on a variety of Red releases with Salvatore Tranchini and Fred Hersch. He also recorded and performed with the George Gruntz Bigband, Gil Evans Orchestra (Miles Davis at Montreaux), as well as 12 Jazz Visits to Copenhagan for Stunt Records. Stunt’s Riel Deal featured Alex Riel, Kenny Werner, and Jesper Lundgaard. It was nominated for a Grammy in Denmark in 1997 for best jazz recording. A number of recordings were made for Label Bleu, France, through a collaboration with Daniel Humair. Bergonzi’s CD Global Summit, featuring Tiger Okoshi and Joachim Kuhn as well as Daniel Humair, Dave Santoro, and Daniel Humair was one of them. This was Bergonzi’s product from one of the three National Endowments. Kuhn’s project also won the Best Jazz Album in France 1992 award. Nando Michelin and Antonio Farao are just a few of the other artists Bergonzi has recorded and performed with. Most of Bergonzi’s latest work has been released by Double-Time Records. Bergonzi’s burning trio of Dan Wall, Adam Nussbaum, and Wiggy recorded Just Within, Lost in the Shuffle and Wiggy. Double-Time also features The Dave Santoro Standards recordings, which feature Bergonzi’s swinging tenor and Tom Melito, drummer, and Renato Chico, pianists. Bergonzi is a band leader and has performed at many festivals including the Red Sea, San Remo Moomba, North Sea Jazz, and Moomba. With Philippe Geiss, a fellow saxophonist, Bergonzi has performed at the World Saxophone Congress, Montreal, Canada, and Valencia, Spain. Round Midnight, a German television series that features Bergonzi’s performance in Cologne at the Subway, has featured his performance. His quartet has performed at the Duc de Lombarde, Paris, Fasching, Stockholm, Jazz House, Copenhagan, Bird’s Eye, Basel and many other venues. Bergonzi resides in Boston with his wife and their two children. He continues to perform and teach worldwide. He endorses Selmer Saxophones. Rico Reeds. Zildjian Cymbals. from

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