FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE! http://www.openmindjazz.com
Acclaimed Boston-based Musicians, bassist Bruce Gertz and Jerry Bergonzi highlight their original compositions on A Different Take
Featuring World Renown, Jazz Saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi, Bassist, Bruce Gertz and Drummer, Austin McMahon
“It’s worth moving to Boston just to play Bruce’s music”-- Bill Mays, jazz pianist extraordinaire
"All of the numerous musicians that have worked with Bruce will tell you he's a monster" --Bob Blumenthal, Boston Globe
When asked of Michael Brecker, “What’s it feel like to be the best sax player in the world? He said I don’t know ask Jerry Bergonzi
On the Cover is a painting by Jerry Bergonzi. Who knew he was a painter?
Saxophonists and Bergonzi fans worldwide will want to check out his alto and soprano playing here as well as his well known tenor sound.
A Different Take is the eighth recording released on Gertz’s own Open Mind Jazz label to grace the jazz archives.
An active Boston-based player who has shared the stage with Gary Burton, Billy Eckstine, Gil Evans, Maynard Ferguson, Bill Frisell, Tom Harrell, Joe Lovano, and Mike Stern, Kurt Rosenwikel, Larry Coryell, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, and recorded with such notable artists as John Abercrombie, Jerry Bergonzi, Joey Calderazzo, Mick Goodrick and Kenny Werner, Billy Hart, Gary Burton and many other well known artists.
Like Bergonzi, Gertz is also a respected academician who has taught at the Berklee College of Music since 1976 and whose students have included Esperanza Spalding, Victor Bailey, Skuli Sverrisen, Matt Pennman, Ruben Rogers, Janek Gwizdala, Jeff Andrews, Peter Herbert, Damian Erskine, Tony Gray and Matt Garrison.
Collaborating again with Jerry Bergonzi, the man Gertz calls his “musical soul brother,” and with whom he has maintained a fruitful association for nearly forty years.
Although Gertz is a fluent electric bassist, he opted for the acoustic double bass, the instrument on which he felt this music was best served. Possessing a warm tone and a lyrical sensibility, Gertz blends these virtues with an enviable technical command. His acutely supportive work is evident on each performance; superlative bass solos can be heard throughout the album while he maintains a powerful bass function as he believes that is job one for any bassist. “Soloing is the icing on the cake” says Gertz. “I always want to serve the music first and honor the song structures with firm yet flexible groove and harmonic foundation”.
Gertz is a well established composer with over two hundred published works most of which are recorded. His regimen involves writing daily every morning and if inspiration strikes he's ready. "Sometimes I only get a short idea but that can be the seed of a beautiful composition"
Bruce takes much care in the sequencing of songs because he feels “an album should be like a symphony where the tunes are like movements” He achieves this by contrasting songs with different keys, tempos and time signatures as well as various grooves with a goal of the music having a smooth flow of moods and action maintaining the listener’s interest. Gertz said, “I remember how enjoyable it was to put on an LP and have it play the entire side over and over until falling in love with the river of tunes that would follow each other”. “You could even sing the key change before the next tune”.
While each player remains committed to authentic self-expression on their respective instrument. Gertz’s memorably melodic tunes are also fashioned to feature his band mate’s abilities as master improvisers. “Duke Ellington wrote for the players in his band and I try to do the same”.
Gertz also has a special gift for beautiful arco work as demonstrated now over several albums. He is noted for a violin type of sound in all the bass registers and contemporary, melodic improvisation and articulation with his bow.
Jerry Bergonzi is no stranger to the jazz world having been in Dave Brubecks Quartet and performed with Miles Davis , Miroslav Vitous, NWR Big Band and toured the world many times over leading his own groups. Gertz says, Jerry is a phenomenon in that he has such a huge vocabulary of rhythm and melody that is unmatched along with a total command of music. He can play any instrument he wants. His Inside Improvisation books on Advance Music are used globally and have become staples in many schools.
Open Mind Jazz, which, to date, has released the acclaimed albums: It Wasn’t Me; Reptilian Fantasies, Thank You Charlie, and Open Mind, The Heart of A Champion, Anybody Home, Eepin and Beepin and now A Different Take.
A Recipient of National Endowment for the Arts jazz performance grant, Gertz is also author of“22 Contemporary Melodic Studies for Bass”, “Walkin' “, “Mastering the Bass“ (Mel Bay Publications) and Let’s Play Rhythm (Advance Music of Germany). Of Gertz’s instructional book/CD “Let's Play Rhythm” the master bassist Rufus Reid states, “A must for all players who wish to get to the core and a deeper functional use of the jazz vocabulary,” while saxophonist Dave Liebman has said, “What I like about this book … is that a student can get right to the point and get immediate results.”
Papatamus April 2016, Robert Rusch, Formerly with Cadence Mag.
A NOTE TO READERS: I cover a lot of items in this column and it is only a fraction of what crosses my desk. I choose to only write about things that I find of interest, usually that is due to quality of music but not always. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mail received is subject to editing and may be included in the next column at my discretion. If you do not want your correspondence printed please let us know. Cheers, rdr.
Bassist BRUCE GERTZ started his own label, Open Mind Jazz, and over a period of about 10 years has released 7 CDs. His latest EEPIN’ AND BEEPIN’ [OMJ 007] with his quintet [Phil Grenadier-tpt, Jerry Bergonzi-ts, Luther Gray-drm, Gilson Schachnik-p] plays 8 originals [51:26] evenly split by Gertz and Bergonzi and was recorded 1/16/13. Gertz draws from the rich field of artists found in the Boston area. He and Bergonzi obviously have a close working relationship as they have appeared on over 2 dozen recordings together including 5 on the Open Mind Jazz label. Gertz keeps a steady beat on this bop based music, occasionally stepping out for some grounded bass solos. Bergonzi, one of the most consistent players plays with just a hint of Coltrane, pushes the music at times to the outer limits of bop. Four months later [5/2&22/13] Gertz brought a quartet/quintet together substituting Gabriel Guerrero [p] for Schachnik and George Garzone [ts] for Grenadier for a set of 9 originals [61:19] on ANYBODY HOME? [OMJ 006]. Garzone is one of the strongest tenor saxmen around and when combined with Bergonzi, on the quintet sides they do not battle but play in tandem or in unison on the heads giving the music a Roland Kirk effect. Guerrero is not present on the quartet [5/2] sides. The lack of a chordal instrument really opens the group up with all members flying on a very exciting original, “Exit Strategy” by Gertz. This is a very interesting date and includes 2 bass features.
BRUCE GERTZ, JACK DIEFENDORF [drm] AND STEVE HUNT [p] make up TRIO-NOW, a group that also recorded for Spice Rack records [c 2012]. Here we have THE HEART OF A CHAMPION [Open Mind Jazz 005]. Steve Hunt may be remembered for his tenure with the NRG Ensemble and Hal Russell before he left Chicago and became Boston based. With the exception of one track by Hunt, 6 of the 7 titles [42:57] here are by Gertz. It’s a pleasant recording and wears well on repeated listenings. This recording had one of Gertz’ composition printed on the overleaf of the digi-pack and I felt that a major motivation on making these CDs was to document and hear his compositions. All of these issues are loaded with his compositions. My feelings were further confirmed with OPEN MIND [Open Mind Jazz 004], a 10/25/12 session with Bergonzi, Grenadier, Guerrero and Austin McMahon [drm] playing 10 originals [63:47]—8 of them by Gertz. This CD includes a 16-page booklet containing all the charts on the recording. The music itself gets off to an inglorious start with a fade out on the first track but, after that annoyance, gets down to some very well executed and enjoyable music. Grenadier and Bergonzi are in fine form and there are some nice thoughtful bass solos. Good listening.
Bruce Gertz Highlights Original Compositions on Open Mind
Acclaimed Boston-based bassist Bruce Gertz highlights his original compositions on Open Mind Featuring Saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi andTrumpeter Phil Grenadier
“It’s worth moving to Boston just to play Bruce’s music”– Bill Mays, jazz pianist extraordinaire
“All of the numerous musicians that have worked with Bruce will tell you he’s a monster” –?Bob Blumenthal, Boston Globe
“His modal, post bop and swing derived harmonies and melodies prove he’s equally versed as a player and as a writer” – New England Performer
Sometimes a picture actually does speak a thousand words. On the cover of his latest album, Open Mind, the bassist, composer and bandleader Bruce Gertz is cradling his instrument, his eyes closed, a look of bliss covering his face. This is clearly a man who finds contentment in music, a passion exemplified by a recording that captures equally the virtuosic talents and organizational focus of the leader and the full-on commitment of his band mates: tenor saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi, trumpeter Phil Grenadier, pianist Gabriel Guerrero and drummer Austin McMahon. Open Mind is 21-century post-bop informed by the wisdom of inquisitive and striving veteran musicians.
Open Mind, released on Gertz’s own Open Mind label, is also the summation, thus far, of a musical journey that finds inspiration on the bandstand and in the classroom. An active Boston-based player who has shared the stage with Gary Burton, Billy Eckstine, Gil Evans, Maynard Ferguson, Bill Frisell, Tom Harrell, Joe Lovano, and Mike Stern, and recorded with such notable artists as John Abercrombie, Jerry Bergonzi, Joey Calderazzo, Mick Goodrick and Kenny Werner, Gertz is also a respected academician who has taught at the Berklee College of Music since 1976 and whose students have included Esperanza Spalding, Victor Bailey and Matt Garrison.
Collaborating again with Jerry Bergonzi, the man Gertz calls his “musical soul brother,” and with whom he has maintained a fruitful three-decade association, Gertz unites the well-admired saxophonist with three other top notch players with whom the bassist has strong ties. Although Gertz is a fluent electric bassist, he determined that the ten original tunes on Open Mind called for the acoustic double bass, the instrument on which he has built his reputation as a masterly player. Possessing a warm tone and a lyrical sensibility, Gertz blends these virtues with an enviable technical command. His acutely supportive work is evident on each performance; superlative bass solos can be heard on“Glad You’re Hear,” “Facing It,” “Lapso,” “E.J.” (on which Gertz displays his outstanding facility on arco bass) and the title track.
Yet Open Mind is anything but a spotlighted showcase for its leader. The ensemble operates with a cohesion that speaks of familiarity –- the quintet has maintained a weekly gig for the past three years at the Acton Jazz Café in Massachusetts — while each player remains committed to authentic self-expression on their respective instrument. Gertz’s memorably melodic tunes are also fashioned to feature his band mate’s abilities as razor-sharp improvisers. On such compelling performances as“Just a Flesh Wound,” “Gwen,” and “Open Mind,” Bergonzi, Grenadier, Guerrero and McMahon exhibit swinging instrumental prowess that begs to extend their reputations beyond that of local jazz legends. Gertz also has a special gift for pensive mid-tempo pieces and ballads, exhibited here on “E.J.” “Gabriella,” and the lovely “Facing It” which elicit heartfelt and lyrical solo statements amid sensitive ensemble interplay.
The triumph of Open Mind is how adroitly it highlights the compositional gifts of its leader; the serious chops of all involved; and the unity that only the best working bands achieve. “It’s the best recording I’ve made,” Gertz states with pride, “Life is a growth process, and my music reflects that. Open Mindis the perfect example of what I’ve become.”
The album shares its title with Gertz’s aptly named record label, Open Mind, which, to date, has released the acclaimed albums: It Wasn’t Me; Reptilian Fantasies, Thank You Charlie, and Open Mind. The next Open Mind album to be released will be The Heart Of a Champion, credited to Trio-Now, which includes Gertz, pianist Steve Hunt and drummer Jack Diefendorf.
A Recipient of National Endowment for the Arts jazz performance grant,
Gertz is also author of“22 Contemporary Melodic Studies for Bass”, “Walkin’ “, and “Mastering the Bass“ (Mel Bay Publications). Of Gertz’s instructional book/CD “Let’s Play Rhythm” (Advance Music of Germany) the master bassist Rufus Reid states, “A must for all players who wish to get to the core and a deeper functional use of the jazz vocabulary,” while saxophonist Dave Liebman has said, “What I like about this book … is that a student can get right to the point and get immediate results.
Open Mind – Open Mind OMJ-004 www.openmindjazz.com Eighty Eight; Glad You’re Hear; Open Mind; Facing It; Just A Flesh Wound; E.J.; Outer Urge; Gabriella; Lapso; For Gwenn
PERSONNEL: Bruce Gertz, bass; Phil Grenadier, trumpet; Jerry Bergonzi; tenor; Gabriel Guerrero, piano; Austin McMahon, drums
By Scott Yanow
Bruce Gertz, who started as a guitarist before switching to the electric bass when he was 14, is best known as a superb acoustic bassist. He graduated from Berklee and is currently an influential professor of bass at his alma mater. In his career he has worked (and sometimes recorded) with such notables as Bill Frisell, Bob Berg, George Cables, Gil Evans, Tom Harrell, Jon Hendricks, Joe Lovano, Diane Schuur, Mick Goodrick, Mike Stern, George Garzone, Maynard Ferguson, Gary Burton, Dave Brubeck, John Abercrombie, and Kenny Werner.
And yet on his latest CD as a leader, Open Mind, Bruce Gertz is more notable as a composer than as a bassist. He does take his share of bass solos on many of the pieces, including a nice bowed improvisation on the ballad “E.J.” And his playing behind the other musicians is consistently stimulating, driving and sensitive. But it is his ability as a songwriter that really stands out on this project. Eight of the ten songs are his, all but Jerry Bergonzi’s “Gabriella” and Gabriel Guerrero’s “Lapso.”
Gertz has known tenor-saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi since 1977, playing with him in Con Brio and in several groups since then. Bergonzi at the time (and during his period as a member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet) was strongly influenced by the sound and style of late 1950s John Coltrane. He has since added Joe Henderson and Wayne Shorter to his influences, mixing them together to form his own dynamic style. Trumpeter Phil Grenadier (who like Gertz and Bergonzi is based in Boston), pianist Gabriel Guerrero (originally from Columbia and now living in New York) and drummer Austin McMahon are all strong assets to the quintet. While sometimes using the mid-1960s Miles Davis Quintet as its foundation, the group has its own sound and a fresh repertoire.
The opening “Eighty Eight” uses a rhythmic pattern of 3-3-2 (with two bars in waltz time and one in 2/4), a pattern that is utilized throughout the piece. As with the other performances, the solos are concise and make use of every moment. Bergonzi’s muscular tenor and Guerrero’s inventive piano make the potentially tricky song sound effortless.
“Glad You’re Hear” has a funky bass and drum pattern that gives way to a straight ahead section in each chorus. While “Open Mind” has a complex melody worthy of Wayne Shorter, the chord changes are taken from Cole Porter’s “I Love You.” Grenadier and Bergonzi both take excellent solos. “Facing It” is a brooding ballad that showcases the rhythm section, giving evidence as to why Guerrero is highly rated.
“Just A Flesh Wound” is a relative to “Solar,” giving the quintet another opportunity to swing in a modern way. “E.J.” has heartfelt solos by bass, trumpet, tenor and piano. “Outer Urge,” Gertz’s answer to Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge,” is a medium-tempo romp. Bergonzi’s jazz waltz “Gabriella,” Guerrero’s “Lapso” and “For Gwenn” (which has a particularly attractive blend between the two horns) brings this fine set to a close.
Several of these songs could become standards in the future if properly exposed. To help make that possible, included with this CD are lead sheets for all ten originals.
The music on Open Mind can be considered a strong example of today’s modern mainstream jazz.
Since returning to active playing in 2004 after a career as a boxing manager, pianist Charles Farrell has released eleven CDs, played with Ornette Coleman, and ...more »
The Bruce Gertz Quintet, Open Mind
- LABEL: OPEN MIND JAZZ / CD BABY
Challenging but accessible contemporary jazz
In jazz, as in many things, how one achieves a high profile is determined as much by geography and luck of the draw as by anything else. Consider the bass player Bruce Gertz. Although he’s known throughout the U.S. and has some following worldwide, his name doesn’t show up in the polls, he’s not a featured performer at festivals and he’s not signed to a major label. Still, it’s apparent from the first track of Open Mind that Gertz belongs in the front rank of contemporary bassists, unquestionably the equal of more celebrated NYC counterparts. He’s got solid but flexible time, a deep, warm tone and a sophisticated harmonic foundation. He’s capable of pushing a group, but he’s also a good team player. For Open Mind, he has assembled a heavy-duty crew of peers, players whose language is largely based around the best of 1960s modal mainstream (think Blue Note Records generally, and maybe Wayne Shorter specifically), but with ears for where jazz has come since then.
Probably the most high-profile player here is tenor saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi, a schooled veteran with an impressive pedigree. Bergonzi plays hard (coming mostly out of mid-Coltrane), and requires a rhythm section that doesn’t flag under the intensity of his attack. The album starts with “Eighty Eight,” a tune in 11/8 (or alternating 6/8 and 5/8, take your pick) over a vaguely rock-tinged vamp. It’s engaging and easy to listen to, and has plenty of substance. The band stays in funk and vamp territory at the start of “Glad You’re Hear,” then alternates that with straight-ahead time. Bergonzi is fluent and full-toned, pianist Gabriel Guerrero is relaxed and totally locked into the rest of the rhythm section. Gertz has a knack for holding down the fort while interjecting provocative commentary. His solo is assured and melodically inventive. The Miles-ish title track (based on the chord changes of Cole Porter’s “I Love You”) features a fluent, optimistic solo by trumpeter Phil Grenadier. He’s a fascinating player. Entirely versed in the styles of his predecessors (Miles and Freddie Hubbard show up), he adds quirky, intelligent note choices that will leave you guessing — and impressed. Bergonzi continues the Miles thread with a finger busting solo that references Wayne Shorter, but is anything but a slavish imitation.
I’m assuming that “Outer Urge” pays homage to saxophonist Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge,” but it’s less feverish. It starts with an unusual drum solo with bass accompaniment. Austin McMahon effectively and efficiently makes himself heard here, his playing a winning blend of concision and imagination. The heartfelt “For Gwen,” with its lyrical voicing for tenor and trumpet closes the album. Guerrero, Gertz and McMahon lead off with an elegant trio exposition. Grenadier joins, again adding an irrepressible lightness to the ensemble. Bergonzi brings more muscle to his solo, but balances it perfectly with the delicacy of the composition. Back to the engaging theme, and out. It would be a shame if Open Mind stays under the radar. It’s an album deserving of careful attention — challenging enough for listeners who like to dig into a project, but immediately accessible to anyone who just wants to hear an hour of superb contemporary jazz.
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