As a tenor saxophonist and composer, Bergonzi asserts himself further on this date with a quintet of established players. Trumpeter Tiger Okoshi forms a good partnership with 'Gonz up front, while the dazzling piano pyrotechnics of Joachim Kuhn, the solid bass playing of Dave Santoro, and the very able drumming of Daniel Humair give the leader quite a foundation from which to work. All eight cuts, save one, are neo-boppish, modern, mainstream vehicles written by Bergonzi, and they express a quick-witted, head-solo-tail written format which, for the most part, swings pretty hard.
The CD is bookended with the title track and "Up for the Count," both upbeat numbers with a fervor that's chock full of notes, loaded with 16th's and 32nd's, especially from Kuhn. The latter tune has a staggered phrase, stop-start melody similar to that of Charles Mingus, and a tenor-drum workout for a bridge. Two bluesy swingers are placed back-to-back: The Kuhn-penned "Manipulations" features overloaded lines from piano and bass, and in "Zonian Mode," the tenor and trumpet get antsy ahead of the bar lines, with Kuhn showing moments of anxiety while the rest prove relatively settled into the groove. Scattered, chopped sounds crop up during the easy-paced but seismic melody of "Creature Feature." A Swiss-cheesed "Internal Affair" sounds like a sliced-and-diced, darker take on "Social Call." The hardest swinger is "Idiosyncracies," during which 'Gonz and Tiger live up to their aggressive nicknames. At a most intricate juncture, "I'll Let You Know" has a two-note chord piano ostinato, contrary swinging bass, and unison horns in a Blue Note/Riverside cum Randy Brecker mode. It is also within this piece that Kuhn's piano rattles cages with dizzying blizzards of notes on his solo.
The more individualistic he becomes, the more challenging the music becomes, and Bergonzi has certainly upped the ante here with this exceptional combo. Were this an actual working, touring band the results might be different, especially down the road, but all in all this proves to be quite a credible, at times startling effort.