John Berndt

The Montreal Concert

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This cute little CD object seems to be an Italian-Canadian co-production, crediting not only the Chaine Culturelle organization or label, but Radio Canada as well. Judging from the latter outfit's past reluctance to let artists privately release recordings done by the radio conglomerate, the assumption is that this is some kind of new official transcription series, perhaps a bit more accessible than the legendary vinyl transcriptions of Radio Canada, also known under the conglomerate initials CBC. Speaking of accessibility, the photo of a grinning and mugging character on the back, vaguely resembling John Belushi, shouldn't lead to the conclusion that this is some kind of comedy record. While some listeners may find solo saxophone music funny, and some of it is, this masterful and absorbing performance has many other positive attributes other than the good-natured energy of its creator, although that is there in abundance. This is the type of saxophone music that skips the pretext of a connection to jazz, although like some jazz performances there is a linear development of both melodic and harmonic material, as well as sheer manipulation of sound, devoid of any traditional musical identity other than rhythmic thrust. The radio station did a fine job with the recording -- and it better, seeing how hard it fights for those tax dollars. This is a type of music where clear and detailed sound recording can sometimes make the home listening experience even more rewarding than a live concert, where the sound of the horn can sometimes be hampered by background noise and acoustical considerations, or the concentration of the audience itself disrupted by any number of phenomenon. Berndt comes up with a total of about 40 minutes of playing -- not a long CD, but intense and satisfying. There is a clear sense of development as the five sections unfold; the performer's intelligence as a so-called "instant composer" impresses, as these portions hang together not only individually, but as a kind of suite.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 40:50
blue highlight denotes track pick