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The Thomas Bergeron Quintet
Highlights from The Thomas Bergeron Quintet
Live at Chapin Hall, Williamstown, MA
February 4th, 2011

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Thomas Bergeron isn't the first jazz musician to draw from a background in classical music, but unlike attempts by others, his debut album "the first of all my dreams was of" manages to marry classical and jazz music-making without betraying the heart of either. In fact, each idiom blossoms brighter as a result of the crossbreed. Inspired by the piano music of Claude Debussy and a special affinity for chamber music, the project is based around Thomas' belief that Debussy fans are inherently jazz fans and jazz fans are inherently Debussy fans, whether they know it or not. The result is a mesmerizing journey for all music lovers, led by the exquisite beauty of Thomas' trumpet playing, which can alternately summon warm smiles and cold tears. A true hybrid ensemble, thoroughly schooled in the performance and compositional traditions of both jazz and classical music, the young members of the Thomas Bergeron Quintet have played in the most famous jazz clubs in the world as well as the most respected concert halls.

Prologue: The Valley
The record opens with a prologue set in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, the farming community where Thomas grew up. The piece is based on Debussy's Prelude "Bruyeres", which is a similarly rural town in the Northeast of France. Thomas sets up a nostalgic country vibe by expanding the I-IV progression, and opens and closes by showcasing his beautiful trumpet sound on meditative improvised cadenzas.

The City Bergeron then takes us from his childhood home to his current home, New York City. The piece attempts to paint the experience of a newcomer to a city that is alternately chaotic, groovy, and serene. The opening is a schizophrenic taxi ride through town inspired by material from Debussy's trippy Prelude "The Fairies are Exquisite Dancers". Then, Dan Campolieta gets a chance to open up on a funky Rhodes solo in 7/4 meter, followed by a cadenza loosely based on a Debussy chord progression. A harmonically complicated mixed-meter trumpet solo is quieted by the brilliant use of space in Samuel Adams' acoustic bass solo. One more cab ride takes the piece to its peaceful home.

Foreverfully Falling Thomas' ethereal flugelhorn playing is featured in the opening of "Foreverfully Falling", which is based on Debussy's "Dead Leaves". As the piece heats up, Bergeron improvises three layers of counterpoint over the changes, followed by a tight drum solo by Charlie Dye. The sound of the harmon muted trumpet caps off a beautiful coda which disappears into the distance.

Et leur chanson se mÍle au clair de lune Without question the highlight of the record is the famous "Clair De Lune", which Thomas chooses to interpret more literally than the other pieces, given the undeniable beauty of its original form. Dave Veslocki opens up on a guitar solo for the first time on the record, followed by a tremendously moving trumpet solo that probes the depths of the soul. "et leur chanson se mÍle au clair de lune" is the complete line from the Paul Verlaine poem which was Debussy's inspiration for the piece. It translates: "and their songs mingled in the moonlight".

She Doesn't Love Me borrows the organic and passionate sounds of flamenco that Thomas was immersed in during a summer in Barcelona, including the nylon string guitar and the open cajon. Dave and Thomas both use free improvisation to invoke the feelings of loss, anger, emptiness, and ultimately redemption associated with losing love, at times taking material from Debussy's "Interrupted Serenade".

and where were you when I was burning alive, nightingale? has the broadest scope of the album, incorporating multiple-part trumpet chorales, mixed-meter full-band jams, composed chamber music, and jazz solos. Using material from Debussy's "The Terrace for Moonlight Audiences", Thomas explores the complicated melange of energies associated with a sense of yearning.

Epilogue: Goodnight Estelle
While Thomas was writing the material for this album, his angelic grandmother Estelle died. Just weeks later his niece was born, who took the same name. As a dedication to both of them, Thomas chose Debussy's "The Sunken Cathedral", which so vividly evoked his memory of Memere Estelle's funeral. From the organ loft at the funeral, Thomas played the the traditional French hymn "Beau Ciel". A re-harmonization of the melody from "Beau Ciel" is what ends this piece, and the record. The text of the hymn includes the words ďThe world, it's possesions, it's pleasures, have nothing worthy of envy when you call me to my heavenly homeĒ

Thomas Bergeron  
Thomas Bergeron  

Based out of New York City, Thomas Bergeron is respected as an artist who gracefully combines a thorough classical training with a profound reverence for the improvisatory traditions of jazz and world music. His unique blend of musical experiences have shaped an exquisite and distinguished sound and a genuine creative voice.

His playing has graced concert halls and recording studios across North America, Europe, and Asia with small and large jazz groups, symphony orchestras, chamber groups, contemporary music ensembles, and as a soloist. Thomas currently holds positions with the Radio City Orchestra of New York and the Berkshire Symphony, and performs frequent jazz engagements in New York City. He can be heard on the Naxos, Bridge, and Koch record labels in addition to his debut solo album on Daywood Drive Records.

Mr. Bergeron recently completed two graduate degrees in Trumpet Performance from Yale, where he received the John Swallow Award for excellence in brass playing and won the Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition. As an educator Thomas has held positions at Yale College, Williams College, Amherst College, and Bennington College, and created the "Music and Creative Writing" program in New Haven's inner-city schools. As a champion of the progressive new music movement, Thomas has commissioned and premiered numerous pieces and co-founded of the Reveille Trumpet Collective.

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