There’s more wailing than whaling here, though these players bring a decided heaviness to their work. All three are Berklee profs with big cred in the performance world. Bergonzi, who wrote 10 of the 11 songs, is a beefy-toned tenor-saxist with a Coltrane jones who blows hot and cool all over the disc. Bob Kaufman has drummed with Steve Lacy and others, and Gertz has been a bass MVP for Bill Frisell and Mick Goodrick. The music runs between melody-driven pieces like "Small Pleasures" and out forays like "Fourth Ray," a trio composition that reignites the sprit of free jazz’s past glories. The latter is an adept essay in rhythmic tension and modal blowing balanced by swinging bits of poetry like "It’s the Same But . . . "
Things come to a head in the aptly titled "Confrontation," where the three players come out swinging before the rhythm section starts tilting the beat in all directions. Bergonzi begins layering sheets of sax and Gertz steps up for a probing solo that explores a fistful of melodies, yielding when Bergonzi comes in hard and starts swapping flutters and moans with Kaufman’s roll-and-snap solos. Playing like this — and, in truth, this entire album — is a reminder of the beautiful potential of human communication.