Chris Bergson Band - Live at Jazz Standard
Blues in the Northwest.com
by Grahame Rhodes

The very excellent Chris Bergson first came to my attention with his 'breakthrough' album in
2008, "Fall Changes" - which was named as Mojo music magazine's album of the year, and
deservedly too . . . this fine writer, singer and guitarist from Brooklyn, NYC [sic] - now based in
Manhattan - is pretty hard to 'pigeon hole', with his superb music covering blues, jazz, soul and

classic rock flavours - the latter maybe from playing with a legend like the late Levon Helm

from The Band.


On this recently-released live album, recorded at Jazz Standard - on 'home turf' in NYC over
two nights in June last year, Bergson and his excellent band revisit some of his back-catalogue

alongside eight new songs - and what a joy this is! Apart from Bergson on vocals and electric

and acoustic guitars, the band comprise: Craig Dreyer (organ and Wurlitzer), Matt Clohesy
(bass) and Tony Leone (drums and backing vocals), and an absolutely crack horn section of
Ian Hendrickson-Smith (baritone saxophone), Freddie Hendrix (trumpet) and David Luther
(tenor saxophone), with guest vocalist, the soulful Ellis Hooks.

The driving opener "Greyhound Station" get the release off to a rocking, but funky start -
it's one of many co-writes between Bergson and his wife, Kate Ross - it shows the tightness of
the band with fine guitar work and soloing, and a tough vocal from Chris Bergson; the following
"Mr. Jackson" is a horn-drenched soulful affair, highlighting Messrs Hendrickson-Smith, Hendrix
and Luther, as well as the immaculate rhythm section of Matt Clohesy and Tony Leone. Ellis
Hooks contributes a joint vocal on "The Only One", which he penned with Bergson and Ross,

with the horn arrangement of Jay Collins giving the tune a classic Stax feel . . . and very
reminiscent of the late, great, one and only Otis Redding.


The music takes a major change in direction with "Heavenly Grass" - Chris Bergson taking a
Tennessee Williams poem, and putting an acoustic Delta blues feel to his self-penned music,
with the drums of Tony Leone featuring, and a spotlight for a fine Wurlitzer solo from Craig
Dreyer. The gentle "Chloe's Song" is a delight, with its summery feel, and again acoustically
flavoured, with one of the best vocals on the album. The whole band get funky again on Ronnie

Shannon's "Baby I Love You", with some spiky lead guitar lines from Bergson and the punchy

horn section again to the fore.

Elsewhere, the soulful ballad "Just Before The Storm", penned by Bergson together with Craig
Dreyer and Ellis Hooks, is another standout, with a beautiful fluid guitar solo; the whole

ensemble hit a New Orleans groove on the superb "Christmas In Bethlehem, PA". The album
ends on a high note with two of the cuts from "Fall Changes" - the jazz-tinged "The Bungler"
and the ode to his old-stomping ground on "Gowanus Heights" . . . a blistering end to a most
enjoyable release, from its punchy horns, funky keyboard playing, driving rhythm section . . .
and above all Chris Bergson's exemplary guitar and vocals.

Needless to say, this comes highly recommended . . . and it would be great to see a more
extended visit to our shores!


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-jazz-standard