Blues in the Northwest

December 01, 2007 | BY Grahame Rhodes

(2 Shirts Records - CD1003)

Without doubt this album is one of the best things I have heard this year - and thanks must be to the good folk of 'Mojo' magazine, who listed opening cut 'Gowanus Heights' in their 'Mojo Playlist' page in the December issue (and the artiste himself!). The Brooklyn-based Chris Bergson and his excellent band bring to the table a sound rooted in the blues - but diverse enough to have jazzy and classic rock leanings.
The guitarist and vocalist recorded in upstate Woodstock, at the studio of The Band drummer, Levon Helm, and the eleven cuts contain a mix of originals co-written with Kate Ross, with some carefully selected covers - including a particularly interesting horn-laden version of Jimi Hendrix's 'Are You Experienced?', and the gorgeous 'Drown In My Own Tears' - forever associated with the late, great Ray Charles.
Chris Bergson's band features the tenor saxophone of Jay Collins and the great Bruce Katz on piano and B-3 organ, for many years a stalwart of Ronnie Earl's Broadcasters, with the tight rhythm section of Chris Berger on bass and Tony Leone (drums) - all fine players.
Bergson possesses a lovely tone in his guitar playing, often touching into BB King territory, and lovely jazzy licks, as evidence on the title cut, ìFall Changesî; with the mellow 'Sanctuary' almost being in gospel territory. The funky feel of 'Latitude' is another standout, with Jay Collins laying down some soulful sax lines.
He takes us down to the delta on the stark 'Rain Beatin' Down', with exquisite slide guitar; with Bruce Katz's piano getting the spotlight on the New Orleans-flavoured 'The Bungler'. The previously-mentioned 'Drown In My Own Tears' wraps things up in fine style with Chris Bergson's chops as tasteful as they throughout the album.
A great release well worthy of a listen - and it would be great to see this fine musician and his band reach our shores next year - promoters get to it!