This brilliant collection from reeds player Tom Bergeron and his quartet of Keller Coker (trombone), Page Hundemer (bass) and Dave Storrs (drums) is marked by Bergeron's intricate and challenging compositions and exquisite musicality from all involved. After dozens of listens this grows more delightful with each tour of the CD player. Bergeron and Coker are professors of music at Western Oregon University. If this is representative of their musical philosophies, Mukilteo
certainly serves as a calling card for the quality of that program. The music transcends easy categorization -- though Mingus, Dolphy and Shepp sometimes come to mind. Much like Steve Lacy and Roswell Rudd, the interplay between sax and trombone is not for the weak of ear. This is intelligent music that requires studious listening to appreciate it's many directional shifts and subtleties. While easy melodies may be difficulty to peg, the music remains consistently melodious.
The title cut is notable for shifting time signatures and tempos. Solos from Bergeron and Coke serve to mark the players' individual personalities as surely as their intertwined lines make the case for superb unit interaction. Hundemer's bass guitar and Storrs' cymbals introduce "Hum-Sah," on which Bergeron and Coker offer more of their sparkling conversation. "Pacific Crest" is marked by snaky sax lines over a busy percussive underpinning that is not only clever, but serves as ample evidence of the quality of production and engineering. This is not only a well conceived and executed program, it is beautifully captured.
"Tadasana" has a slow moaning New Orleans-ish quality. "Frunkin'" is sort of out-funk, ala Lester Bowie. "Radiance," the closing number, features Bergeron's flute in a radiant interlude that displays the stylist breadth of flute more intelligently than any other player than easily comes to mind.
That Bergeron and company have made music this captivating is a joy. That it may take some effort to track it down may prove to be a most enjoyable musical exertion. Louie Records is at 644 SW 5th in Corvallis, OR 97333. You can reach them at (541) 752-7132 or visit the website.