Soul Mission Reviews

Soul Mission
Elan Jazz EJ1001

Not to my surprise, last week I received a cd from Ontario. It is an album entitled: “Soul Mission”. What is extraordinary, is that it is the BRIAN DICKINSON QUARTET. Does that say something to you?

Brian Dickinson – Piano, Jerry Bergonzi – Sax Tenor, Jim Vivian – Bass, Ted Warren – Drums

Knowing that Mr. Bergonzi (who is considered at present by several, one of the best sax players on the international scene) made party of this quartet, there is no doubt that “Soul Mission” is of a credibility to all tests. You will thus understand that it is enough abassourdissant to receive the material of musicians of this staure. It’s required of me to listen to their sampling and to review it. Wait,wait! What did I choose you think? The eight pieces that one finds here are the fruit of five years work carried out by Dickinson (of Toronto) and Bergonzi (of Boston), but curiously the recording lasted only four hours. This large work was entirely prepared. Soul Mission contains besides, only original compositions. Jim Warren on his side, is known to have taken part in several jam sessions in Montreal. One told me the same thing of Jim Vivian. The genius of Dickinson Quartet is surely in its rhytmic section. The centre piece in my opinion, is in position 7 on the album and it is entitled “Crazy Makers”, where one can feel fluidity between the ideas, the emotion and dexterity. Absolutely a delight for the ears. I give them a mark of 10 out of 10 on the prize list. Here is a well deserved success!!!
Karolyn Verville

Not every jazz musician moves to New York City. Many very talented players enrich the local scenes of cities around the world. Pianist Brian Dickinson is an integral part of Toronto’s deep pool of gifted musicians. Tenor saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi made a very successful move to New York City in the early seventies but eventually moved back to his native Boston where he continues to teach, play locally and tour. One of the places he travels to on these tours is Toronto, where he often joins forces with Brian Dickinson at clubs like the Top O’ the Senator. Soul Mission is a collaboration between the bright, sparkling piano playing of Dickinson and the dense, meaty tone of Bergonzi, on a set of bop-derived modern jazz that owes a lot to the music of Sonny Rollins and early John Coltrane. The music consists entirely of original material written by either Dickinson or Bergonzi. Bergonzi finds his compositional inspiration in the vast vocabulary of hard bop, while Dickinson writes darker, more harmonically daring pieces of music. The rhythm section of drummer Ted Warren and bassist Jim Vivian builds a solid yet flexible rhythmic backdrop for Dickinson and Bergonzi to solo against, as well as contributing several tight, wonderfully restrained solos of their own. The liner notes to Soul Mission tell us that this particular group completed an engagement at a local club just before recording this CD. The musicians are obviously comfortable with and confident in each other’s playing, which creates an atmosphere of cohesiveness that is reflected in this very solid set of mainstream jazz.
Reviewed by Neil Henden – PLANET JAZZ MAGAZINE – Winter/Spring 2004

This is Brian Dickinson’s 5th album as a leader and is a collaboration with the Boston saxophonist, Jerry Bergonzi. You may have caught them at one of their appearances at the Top O’ the Senator and if so, you already know how well they perform together. They are accompanied by local stalwarts Jim Vivian on bass and Ted Warren, drums. The material consists of originals by the two principals and they each contribute four compositions. The material is interesting and a good and varied mix of energy and introspection; given the talents involved, it comes as no surprise that they are beautifully played. It may have been my mood of the moment, but I particularly enjoyed Dickinson’s Delaware Daze and Sam’s Song, while Soul Mission and Tribute by Bergonzi stood the test of multiple plays. Just as an aside, and I don’t know if there was an influence in his formative years, but Brian’s playing on the first chorus of Pardon Me had, for me, a Horace Silverish feel to it. The playing throughout is of a high caliber – there are no passengers on board – and the recording quality is excellent. All in all, a very satisfying CD of contemporary acoustic music.
Reviewed by Jim Galloway – WHOLE NOTE MAGAZINE – September 2003

When Boston tenorman Jerry Bergonzi comes to town, he always links up with one of the city’s leading pianists in Dickinson, and a week’s Senator gig was the warmup for this recording. Bassist Jim Vivian and drummer Ted Warren are also on hand for the eight long tracks, four each by the talented leader and his American guest. Everyone gets more than the Andy Warhol allotment in the spotlight and overall the music is calm, with Bergonzi forsaking his cut-and-thrust careening through ideas from the John Coltrane production line. He mostly plays serenely and inventively, as on the title tune which also is a classic example of Dickinson’s logical, focussed approach. All hustle on cuts like “Pardon Me” and “Splurge,” Warren is in particular hearty shape and Bergonzi is as fluent as ever but gets spooky on “Tribute.” The best track, “Crazy Matters,” lets this seasoned grouping scoot through some labrynthine passages with verve.
Reviewed by Geoff Chapman
Thursday, July 3, 2003
The Toronto Star