New York City based Guitarist/Composer/Vocalist Chris Bergson has been hailed by Jazz guitar master Jim Hall as being "among the best of the young jazz guitarists...his skills are already amazing."
Chris Bergson's music seamlessly blends the raw emotional intensity of the Delta and Chicago Blues traditions with the subtleties and group interaction of Modern Jazz. Chris occupies a unique place on the New York music scene as an artist who brings the deep soul of the Blues to Jazz audiences while reinvigorating the Blues genre with a Jazz musician's touch and sense of space. A hard-grooving yet deeply lyrical guitarist and an incredibly powerful Blues singer to match, Bergson's music combines and transcends his Jazz and Blues influences to create a sound all his own.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Chris Bergson was born in New York City on May 24, 1976, the only child of two serious music lovers. When Chris was four, his family moved to the Boston area, where he lived until he was eighteen. Chris began taking guitar lessons at the age of seven and he has been singing as long as he can remember. While he was still in grammar school his parents gave him LPs by such amazing - and seemingly disparate - artists as Muddy Waters, Miles Davis, Robert Johnson, John Coltrane, B.B. King, Thelonious Monk, and Albert King. Chris' parents also took him to live concerts by Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, John Lee Hooker and Buddy Guy. Early exposure to such masters sparked Chris' lifelong love and passion for music that spans both Jazz and Blues genres.
Inspired by the beauty and purity of Miles Davis' trumpet sound, Chris spent many hours trying to develop a clean, singing tone of his own on the guitar. But few records moved him in the gut and in the heart like B.B. King's soulful playing and singing on his classic "Live at Cook County Jail" album. At a young age, Chris responded to the emotional power and soulful cry of the Blues but he was also drawn to the harmonic and rhythmic freedom and creativity found in Jazz.
Chris Bergson moved back to New York City in January, 1995 at the age of eighteen, and spent his time woodshedding by day and frequenting jam sessions at night into the wee hours at Augie's Jazz Bar and the recently opened Small's Jazz Club. In 1996, Chris enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music where he studied privately with guitarists Jack Wilkins and Rodney Jones. Chris began gigging regularly on the New York Jazz scene, gaining invaluable schooling on the bandstand. In May 1999, Chris graduated from the Manhattan School of Music with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Jazz Guitar Performance. By the time he graduated, Bergson had recorded as a sideman with jazz vocal legend Annie Ross and had accompanied future Jazz vocal star Jane Monheit on numerous gigs. He had also recorded his first CD as a leader, Blues For Some Friends of Mine (featuring the top rhythm section of Dwayne Burno and Greg Bandy) for the Juniper Records label. "Just 21 when he made his first album, Chris Bergson was announcing that he had the chops to become a major player in the world of Jazz Guitar." - Dave Nathan, All Music Guide
A BLUES SINGER IS BORN
During his first few years in New York, Chris immersed himself in the study of Modern Jazz and the language of Bebop. Despite no small number of successes, Chris couldn't help feeling that something was missing from his music. An impromptu performance in the summer of 2000 changed the course of his musical career and prompted a swift return to Chris' Blues roots. One night, as Chris was hanging out with his girlfriend and a few close friends at his East Village apartment, he started to play some Blues - just for fun - on his beat up old Gibson. Then he started to sing, cautiously at first, since he had not sung in public or on any gigs in over five years. He sang Robert Johnson's "Rambling On My Mind" and as the song progressed, everybody's mouths dropped open in complete astonishment. As Chris closed his eyes and sang, a deep and powerful voice filled the room. Chris recalls: "There's something so satisfying to the soul in that kind of raw Delta Blues groove. That night I reconnected with something that had been asleep deep inside of me. There's something so honest and personal in Robert Johnson's music - something defiantly raw and uncompromising - which seems to say this is my music, you can take it or leave it. I found that feeling very empowering and also very liberating."
ENCOURAGEMENT FROM THE BEST
At first, Chris wasn't sure how to integrate his Blues vocals into sets with his Jazz Trio, or how audiences or his fellow musicians would react, but the response to his singing was so consistently strong that he soon found that people wanted to hear him sing MORE. Chris received strong praise for his Blues singing from great singers he accompanied and respected like Norah Jones and Dena DeRose and this bolstered his confidence considerably. As time went on, word spread and a buzz began to develop about this young white Jazz guitarist who could really sing the Delta Blues. Master drummer and Miles Davis alum Al Foster advised him, "That's some real authentic Blues you're playing. You could be a big star doing that shit. Get the people in your corner with the Blues, then you can play whatever the f--- you want!"
PAST APPEARANCES AND CREDITS
Since settling in New York City in 1995, Chris Bergson has performed with many of the world's greatest musicians and has become an in-demand presence on the New York scene. Bergson has served as accompanist to such top vocalists as Annie Ross, Norah Jones, Dena DeRose, Jane Monheit and Sasha Dobson. Bergson has also performed and/or recorded with jazz greats Al Foster, Matt Wilson, Larry Grenadier, Peter Bernstein, Dennis Irwin, Dwayne Burno, Greg Bandy, John Webber, Ron McClure, Sam Yahel, Joe Magnarelli, Donny McCaslin, Joel Frahm, Sheryl Bailey, Daniel Sadownick and Gerald Cleaver.
Chris Bergson has performed at such top New York City venues as The Blue Note, Birdland, Joe's Pub, Smoke, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Bergson has also performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. In 2002, Chris Bergson was appointed a Jazz Ambassador of the United States of America by the Kennedy Center and the U.S. State Department and in October 2002, sponsored by the State Department, Chris' trio toured eight countries in West Africa giving concerts and clinics.
This past August, on the heels of his triumphant engagement at the BLUE NOTE, Chris decided it was time to properly record his original Blues material, choosing the intimacy of a live setting in a club in which he felt quite at home. SMOKE Club owner Paul Stache set up mics and baffles and the ensuing five song CD, CHRIS BERGSON - BLUES is the result. With hard grooving support from drummer MATT WILSON and B-3 Organist Brian Charette, the five song LIVE CD is the answer to repeated requests from fans who wanted a CD featuring Chris' heartfelt and soulful vocals with the energy and intensity of Bergson's live shows.
Keep your eyes out for rising star Chris Bergson's powerful live performances - his live shows are events not to be missed! For info about this and other Upcoming Shows and to Join Chris' email list, please visit: www.chrisbergson.com