Wayne Bergeron - Plays Well With Others 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Scott Yanow   
Thursday, 01 November 2007

format:    16-bit CD
performance:    7
sound:    8
released:    2007
label:    Concord
reviewer:    Scott Yanow

Wayne Bergeron has long had an enviable reputation in the Los Angeles area as one of the truly technically skilled trumpeters. He played lead with his idol Maynard Ferguson’s band during the second half of the 1980s, and has since appeared on hundreds of CDs in the pop, rock, R&B and jazz worlds. Bergeron has been part of a countless number of movie soundtracks, televisions shows and TV and radio jingles. He has also appeared at one time or another with virtually every big band based in Los Angeles. His range is comparable to Maynard Ferguson’s, he can read anything and is versatile enough to fit into any setting.

A lover of big bands, Bergeron led his own orchestra for the 2003-04 recording You Call This a Living? Plays Well With Others is his second big band album as a leader and it finds him in typically outstanding and colorful form. Bergeron is a prominent figure on all 10 selections but fortunately does not confine himself to the upper register. Some of his solos are restrained while others are happily bombastic. The same can be said for the music.

One of the emotional highpoints is “Maynard & Waynard,” a medium-tempo blues that pits Bergeron with the late Maynard Ferguson, whom he battles to a draw. A dramatic version of “You Go To My Head” is memorable, as is a cooking version of “Georgia.”

The arrangements of Wally Minko, Gordon Goodwin, Geoff Stradling, Tom Kubis, Bill Liston, Joey Sellers and Dan Higgins are colorful if conventional, sticking to the modern big band/hard bop genre without hinting much at the avant-garde or more adventurous styles. But although not an innovative program, the music is quite eventful and full of variety. In addition to Bergeron’s trumpet blasts, one gets to hear such soloists as altoist Dan Higgins, tenor saxophonists Pete Christlieb, Bob Sheppard and Bill Liston, Bill Reichenbach on bass trombone and tuba, trombonist Andy Martin, pianist Christian Jacob, and Warren Luening, who takes a trumpet solo on “Georgia.” The ensembles are clean and full of spirit, the rhythm section keeps the music swinging and the performances are full of subtle surprises.

And with titles such as “Endless Torture,” “High Clouds and a Good Chance of Wayne” and “You Hid What In the Sousaphone?,” humor is not absent in the music.

Throughout, Wayne Bergeron makes hitting high notes sound effortless and a logical part of the music. Fans of modern big bands will definitely enjoy Plays Well With Others.

Recording an assortment of overlapping big bands (ranging from 10-19 pieces) cannot be the easiest activity in the world. But the balance on Plays Well With Others is flawless, every instrument can be heard at all times, the key players are always in the forefront and there is no obvious fault to the technical side of this recording. The folks at Martinsound Studios in Alhambra, California clearly know what they’re doing.

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