Chris Bergson Band - Live at Jazz Standard
by Jim Hynes
If Chris Bergson was a baseball player, he would be dubbed a "five tool" player (an old term for a complete player). On this exceptional live release, Bergson is a soulful singer, a fiery guitarist, a strong songwriter, a versatile performer across several genres and a formidable band leader. And like most good leaders, he has a strong supporting cast. He augments his tight quartet with the soulful vocals of Ellis Hooks on a few tunes and features a three-piece horn section, led by Ian Hendrickson-Smith of the Dap Kings.
This generous 15-song album features eight new tunes from the Chris Bergson Band, some staples and a couple of well-chosen covers. From blazing rock to funk to soul to Delta blues and all that's in between, these musicians run the gamut from busting your gut to softly seranading you. On "The Only One", the soul-drenched give-and-take vocals between Bergson and Hooks conjure up Otis Redding's "You Left the Water Running." When they tackle "Corinna", they're doing Taj Mahal proud. Delta blues holds sway on Tennessee Williams' "Heavenly Grass" and the horn section recahes its apex with "Christmastime in Bethlehem PA." Bolstered by the steady in-the-pocket drumming of Tony Leone and keyboard excursions of Craig Dreyer supporting Bergson, this recording captures the sheer exhilaration of one of the most talented bands playing today.