Borah Bergman and Roscoe Mitchell: At Any Given Moment


At Any Given Moment


Borah Bergman and Roscoe Mitchell


The Italian Concert (Soul Note 121342)

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Borah Bergman (piano), Roscoe Mitchell (alto sax).

Composed by Borah Bergman and Roscoe Mitchell


Recorded: Bolzano, June 30, 1995


Rating: 94/100 (learn more)

Of the many pianists who've adopted jazz-derived free improvisation as a mode of expression, few if any have as distinctive a style as Borah Bergman. Initially inspired by the legendary pianist Lennie Tristano, Bergman nevertheless developed a voice wholly different from his model, conceiving a manner of non-tonal improvisation that draws little from the bebop that formed the basis of Tristano's music. Bergman is a free-associative improviser, operating outside the realm of swing and jazz harmony in a manner essentially invented by Cecil Taylor. Bergman possesses massive chops, yet he's not afraid to rein them in. Indeed, reticence is a crucial aspect of his music.

Roscoe Mitchell is a good foil for Bergman. Not only is he fond of leaving space between phrases, he generates an illusion of space through the use of long, sustained tones, often separated by intervals greater than an octave. This 17-minute track begins gradually and takes time building momentum, although a palpable tension is present from the outset. The dramatic arc rises and falls naturally; there is no single huge climax, but rather several smaller ones that are thrown into relief by the surrounding quiet. The musicians' choice of notes might imply a contemporary classical influence, but the phrasing, articulation, and inflections are pure jazz (albeit of the very free-est variety). First class stuff by two masters of their craft.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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