An identifiable criterion for a jazz musician is his/her musical personality. Bassist-composer Chuck Bergeron has a sustained personality on his instrument, which is seated on a high watermark of achievement. Seldom is the refinement of a spirited personality in philosophy, conception, sound, language, and execution without a rich experience profile. And Bergeron's is no exception, his work has been densely seeded and nurtured within a prized roster of high reputation players from the likes of Randy Brecker, Brian Lynch, and Adam Nussbaum to the big bands of Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, and John Fedchock-plus singers Joe Williams, Jon Hendricks and Kevin Mahogany. Bergeron's broad adaptive and cross-pollinative abilities are well served, and his versatility is planted in varied traditions without getting swallowed by the diffusion of contexts or styles. And he has such a rich, warm round and alluring sound-it is extra special when he pulls a note and permits it to stretch and linger, underlining his caring sense of melody. Another attribute is his ownership of a great time feel. Note how he bides his time to develop his ideas in a thoughtful manner.
Bergeron prefers that his recordings reflect influences he experiences while composing the music for each respective CD: "I'll listen to different styles of music and focus on different things and try to write-based on the effects exerted on me at that time, then I'll record a collection of original pieces and one arrangement of a standard tune that will hopefully express each new set of influences." His rational calls for music of different grooves. Bergeron explains: "I included straight eighth note feels, a little New Orleans second-line, some straight-ahead of course, and a fat pocket 12/8 groove to vary the time feels."
This CD illuminates Bergeron's attitude in serving the music. It reflects an appetizing artistic diet. In effect, the sum of the pieces of music produces a colorful swath of diverse sketches of Bergeron's inventive mixing of his own palette. Collapsing generic boundaries, he reveals vivid causal effects of his elastic, open viewpoint. This position is reinforced by his two earlier CDs as well. In common with them, this latest one also armed with the luster and simpatico of all the musicians deepens its validity relative to Bergeron's values. Utilizing their individual flavors to compliment one another in varying combinations, the band and CD take on an arch of surprises, earthy feelings, persuasions and imaginative treatments; and the musicians are plainly having a ball playing!
Catch what a gallery of talented players Bergeron recruited for this outing. The cast includes multi-woodwind player Charlie Pillow whose exemplary oboe work, for example, is impressive; Rick Margitza's top shelf saxophone contributions; guitarist John Abercrombie's perfectly compatible sound especially with the tenor sax and organ a la Mike Holober; trumpeter Jay Thomas' journey through metric modulations on Jay Walk; and the alert, outstanding drummers Peter Erskine and Bob Moses. For a quick index, check out, for instance, the wide carpet of sounds on Beebles, which is highlighted with an attractive bass line at the onset, serving as a hook for the whole tune.
Bergeron cites Dave Holland and Marc Johnson as favored bassists. By the way, Bergeron is keenly judicious and careful about not inundating his recordings with excessive bass solos; he incorporates them only if the situation is apropos and meaningful.
Regarding recordings he has been listening to in the past couple of years, Chuck points out, "In addition to the Dave Holland records and the music of the Peter Erskine/John Taylor Trio, I've spent some time with Keith Jarrett recordings that feature Jan Garbarek-I love that kind of sound and shape." With this kind of impact, check out the use of tones and space amidst the free interplay of Bergeron, Bob Moses, and Charlie Pillow's sopranino on In Cahoots with Moses...or Holland's impetus hinted on Free Time featuring Abercrombie and Margitza. However, to grasp the overall concept for this CD, the most defining illustrations are the opening cut, The Rub and Local Heroes; both accentuating Bergeron's infatuation with the color of the guitar-organ-saxophone alignment.
Chuck Bergeron has succeeded in achieving his goal of archiving the music he's been listening to with the music he's been playing. "Cause and Effect" is filled with rewarding sounds and emotional hues-handsome harmonies, inviting fresh melodies, vibrant solos, intriguing rhythmic attitudes...and more! The Cause is clear and the Effect is inspiring.
--Dr. Herb Wong February 2001