Last night was the annual fall concert of the One O'Clock Lab Band, a Tuesday-before-Thanksgiving tradition for almost fifty years. I was especially looking forward to this year's concert, because I got to see Wayne Bergeron a few months ago at the Maynard tribute, and his performance there made me hungry for more.
It's hard to say where I first heard Wayne, because his music has appeared in so many movies and TV shows that I've seen. Maybe his stint with the Maynard band; definitely when Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band first came out. But I really got to know his playing about four years ago when a friend of mine played me Wayne's first solo CD, You Call This a Living?, on the way down to TMEA; I was so impressed that I bought it soon after we arrived at the convention.
I mentioned in the Maynard tribute review that Wayne's nickname is "Waynard," and he's definitely one who could take up the Ferguson mantle if he ever decided to hit the road on a regular basis (but I bet he's having too much fun--and making too much money--to give up his Hollywood day job). Besides an amazing range, he's also gifted with the cleanest trumpet sound I've ever heard that high up in the stratosphere ("almost too clean," as my trumpet-player buddy who turned me onto the CD once said). That first CD includes a couple of Goodwin compositions, as well as some from fellow Cailfornia writers Tom Kubis and Bill Liston, and many of the great L.A. studio musicians can be found on the CD.
Wayne's visit with the One O'Clock included several tunes from that first CD--"Hospital Blues" and "Rhythm Method" (by Kubis), and interesting adaptations of "Friend Like Me" from Aladdin and Tchaikovsky's "Waltz of the Flowers" (by Liston). As expected, Wayne live was just as exciting live as on the recording, and it was fun to hear the One O'Clock backing him up (special kudos to lead trumpter Jason Levi for flat-out nailing the climactic part of "Hosptial Blues"). There were a few tunes that were new to me, both by Kubis ("Pain for Wayne" and "High Clouds and a Good Chance of Wayne") and they also found guest and band in fine form. (If you haven't heard some of these tunes, catch a few of them on Wayne's MySpace.)
This was a very different concert from the past few Fall Concerts, since Wayne is a tad younger than some of the artists they've had in recently (Jimmy Heath, Phil Woods, Benny Golson, and so on). Most of the charts that he brought in are of a different style than the One O'Clock usually plays, so I'm sure that the music allowed the players to stretch in wonderful ways, and they sounded great on everything as usual. One of the things I wasn't able to discern from the Maynard tribute was Wayne's rapport with the audience, so I'm happy to report that he's very engaging and funny, and it sounded like he actually hung with the band members after hours (again, maybe that's the whole younger thing, though I was quite surprised to re-read the liner notes of that first CD and discover that he's been a grandfather since 2002). I noted in the Maynard tribute that the greatest legacy Maynard left behind was the slew of former sidemen who have become leaders in their own right, and Wayne Bergeron is one who's doing his old boss proud. It was great to hear him in a close setting at my alma mater.
According to Wayne's website, his second solo CD, Plays Well With Others, will drop in January;you'd better believe I'll be doing a pre-order on that one.