Chris Bergson Band - Live at Jazz Standard
The Blues Music Magazine
Issue #4
by Kay Cordtz

If it’s possible, guitar ace Chris Bergson just keeps getting better. He had some opportunities to play with and observe Hubert Sumlin before he passed two years ago, and his emulation of the legend’s minimalist style has never been more apparent than on his latest record. Recorded live over a two-night stand last winter at a NYC club, the record contains more than one guitar tour de force, each one demonstrating that it’s quality of tone and an instinct for the perfect choice of notes that distinguishes a great performance from one that’s merely flashy.

The CD also showcases Bergson’s vocal power, songwriting skills, and his ability to assemble a world-class band. Bergson is without question the star of his own live shows, but it’s the other players’ eagerness to collaborate that really allow him to shine. His longtime rhythm section– Tony Leone on drums and Matt Clohesy on bass – provide not just a solid foundation, but one with the imagination to create interesting spaces in the music to highlight Bergson’s prodigious talents. Multi-instrumentalist Craig Dreyer not only plays organ and Wurlitzer, he also co-wrote the delightful “Sometimes It’s You,” an ode to the black sheep in everyone’s family. Bergson’s saxophone player, Jay Collins, was on tour with another band when the CD was recorded, but he wrote nearly all of the brilliant horn charts, ably executed by Ian Hendrickson-Smith, Freddie Hendrix, and David Luther.

Perhaps Bergson’s most fascinating collaboration is with soul singer Ellis Hooks, who duets with Bergson on the standard “Corinna” and also on “The Only One,” a tasty R&B composition he and Bergson cooked up.  Additional highlights include “Heavenly Grass,” Bergson’s music set to the lyrics of the Tennessee Williams, the lovely “Chloe’s Song,” written for and about Bergson’s five-year-old daughter, and the words-and-music portraits of Bergson’s neighborhoods, past (“Gowanus Heights”) and present (“61st & 1st”). If you don’t know Bergson’s music, you should.