Borah Bergman

Toronto 1997

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Boxholder issued a Borah Bergman concert at the 1997 Du Maurier Downtown Jazz Festival in Toronto as Toronto 1997 six years after it was recorded. It's a wonderfully gripping set, scorching and emotional -- and that's without taking into account that it stands as one of Thomas Chapin's last live recordings. Something is different in this session; the improvisers have swapped personas. Bergman, always so vehement, an unstoppable source of quick notes pouring all across the keyboard, begins the set with a slow, opened motif referencing his jazzier leanings. The man is in a contemplative mood! When Chapin enters after a few seconds, it is on alto saxophone and with multiphonics. No matter how softly he plays, he sounds much harsher than Bergman. And with an insistent two-tone figure this usually delicate man urges the pianist to pick up the pace -- which he does. By the fourth minute Bergman is at full throttle and Chapin is pouring his heart out, testifying the way Charles Gayle would do, with the heart-on-sleeve attitude one expects from Ivo Perelman, but not from him. From then on the performance moves through shifting episodes of quiet tenderness (usually when Bergman ends up soloing) and passionate free jazz. The level of communication between the two players is exemplary, to a point where some parts of this "Suite for Terry Chapin" (especially the first and third) could easily be mistaken for something that was written down or at least sketched prior to walking on-stage. Clocking in at 45 minutes, the set doesn't require too big an effort and rewards more than it asks for.

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