Bob Kaufman

The Line Between

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Although the three protagonists on this album are all professors at the Berklee College of Music, the music, and the manner in which they perform it, is anything but academic. They provide a full agenda of styles, from the modern to that which stays within a slightly more conventional set of boundaries, both occurring sometimes during the same tune. Regardless of the jazz form, the borders of improvisation, and thus jazz, are furthered by the endeavors of musicians who are completely in synch. There's no wasteful individual (or collective) meandering into the abyss of confusion on this set. Jerry Bergonzi naturally carries the melodic load. But his compatriots both support and challenge him with their percussive underpinnings. A prime example of their communication is on the title tune, where the sax player puts out a steady stream of ideas built upon the strong foundations laid down by Bruce Gertz' bass (plucked and bowed) and Bob Kaufman's drums. However, while the improvising is there, matters get neither tense nor out of control. A more expansive approach is found on the aptly named "Confrontation," where there are sharp exchanges between the participants as Bergonzi's playing becomes freer and less concerned with staying inside the box. One of the attractions of this CD is the intonation of Bergonzi's sax. It has a full-bodied sound to it, not that shrill, whiny result so often offered by modern sax players. Given the nature of the music being played, there are necessarily some discordant emissions from the sax, yet Bergonzi manages to avoid the harshness that so often comes from this music. He and his cohorts never forget melody, stretch and bend it as they may. This is an album for both those who love and those who hate modern jazz. Recommended.

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