Jazz legend Wayne Bergeron makes a rare, one-night-only public appearance in Susanville

Wayne Bergeron

Ignore me at your own peril on this one if you dare, but I’ve got some really big, big music news to share with y’all.  Jazz trumpeter Wayne Bergeron — yes, oh yes, that Wayne Bergeron who first rose to prominence as a member of Maynard Ferguson’s band in the 1980s and since then has worked on more than 400 TV and movie soundtracks — will perform with the Susanville City Big Band for “An Evening of Jazz” at the Veterans Memorial Hall at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28. Other featured guest artists at Saturday night’s 7 p.m. show include Danny Sandoval on tenor sax and Paul Lenz on trumpet. Oh, and you should know Bergeron rarely (as in almost never) performs in public.

“You’re going to see a world class trumpet player,” said Ben Wade, the Susanville Symphony Society’s maestro and artistic director. “You’ve got to go to this concert. If you don’t go to this concert, you won’t ever see someone like this in Susanville again … Reno is jealous. Sacramento is jealous. San Francisco is jealous because they can’t get Wayne Bergeron. The only reason he’s coming up here is because he’s friends with one of our musicians. That’s the only reason he’s coming here.”

So, seriously, how good is Bergeron? Wade said he’s so good those writing film scores write pieces specifically for him because no one else can play that high and that technical. Wade is clearly excited about the concert.

“This show is going to be hot. It’s going to be sexy. It’s going to be loud. It’s going to be high,” said Wade. “He’s going to blow everybody’s mind when he plays.”

Wade said the evening features some swing music with cool jazz, jazz fusion, funk, a little Latin and even Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” in honor of Halloween

The list of artists who have nabbed him Bergeron as their go-to sideman is nothing short of stunning. Please allow me name drop a few of the A-listers he’s worked with — Maynard Ferguson, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, Barry Manilow, Christina Aguilera, Paul Anka, Pat Boone, James Brown, Michael Bublé, Ray Charles, Rosemary Clooney, Joe Cocker, Natalie Cole, Harry Connick, Jr., Neil Diamond, Earth, Wind and Fire, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Marvin Hamlisch, Julio Iglesias, INXS, Quincy Jones, Matrina McBride, Meat Loaf, Bette Midler, Buddy Miles, Brian Setzer, Jack Sheldon, Shinedown, Lee Ann Womack, Brian Wilson, Weird Al Yankovic and Neil Young. And frankly, I don’t recognize the names of all those jazz folks he’s recorded with. Movies? How about “Despicable Me,” “Dreamgirls,” “Frozen,” “Rounders,” “Superman Returns,” “The Incredibles” and “Toy Story 3.”

It’s easy to recognize Bergeron’s playing because he frequently works in the upper ranges of the instrument, reaching notes most trumpet players can only imagine playing. In fact, according to Wikipedia, he had a hard time learning to play the trumpet when he switched from French horn as a teenager because he learned to play everything two octaves higher than written. Allegedly, he could play a double high C before he could play middle C.

Ben Wade talks Wayne Bergeron
“Wayne Bergeron, considered to be the best studio trumpet player in the world, is coming to Susanville the end of October, and I’m excited about it because this is a once in a lifetime concert,” said Wade. “He would be a hot commodity in San Francisco, Sacramento, Reno and even Los Angeles. He doesn’t even give concerts in Los Angeles, and he’s busy every single weekend of the year … He’s personal friends with Steven Speilberg and George Lucas and when they need a trumpet section they’ll fly in the whole New York Philhamonic trumpet section to play, and he’s still playing lead over all those guys.”

So, what makes him so good?
“He can play fast, he can play technical, he can play high, he can play loud — he can really do it all,” Wade said. “He’s like a cross between Maynard Ferguson and Winton Marsalis, and as a trumpet player myself, I have an incredible amount of respect for how he can play. No matter how much I might practice, I could never replicate the way he plays.”

Master class on Friday
Bergeron will conduct a master class at Lassen High School on Friday and other students from Redding also will attend.

Get your tickets now
With interest in the show coming all the way from the Bay Area and beyond, Friday night’s concert with Bergeron may sell out quickly, so get your tickets now to avoid disappointment. Tickets are available at Susanville Dental Care and Margie’s Book Nook. For ticket information, call (530) 310-8111. On Saturday night, all Lassen County students will be admitted free. Patrons also are invited to dress up in costume for Saturday night’s show.