JOHN BERGAMO – May 28, 1940 – October 19, 2013.
From his early days as a drummer in New Jersey, John Bergamo has never lost his desire to expand his interest in percussion. In 1959 John attended the Lenox School of Jazz in Lenox Mass. next door to Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony. Under a scholarship, John studied drumset with Max Roach; had Percy Heath and Kenny Dorham as jazz band instructors; studied history and theory with Gunther Schuller, Marshall Stearns and George Russell; and was classmates with Ornette Coleman, and Don Cherry. In 1962 John earned an M.M. degree from Manhattan School of Music, followed by three summers in Tanglewood and time in New York City as a freelance musician.
In the fall of 1964, he joined the Creative Associates at the State University at Buffalo. This group was formed by composer /conductor / pianist; Lukas Foss, and its members included percussionist Jan Williams; composers George Crumb, Sylvano Bussoti, Mauricio Kagel, and Fred Myrow; Bassist Buell Neidlinger; oboist / saxophonist Andrew N. White III; singers Carol Plantamura, Sylvia Brigham Dimiziani, and Larry Bogue; composer / trombonist Vinko Globokar; violinist Paul Zukofsky; clarinetist Sherman Friedlander; cellist Jay Humeston; composer / pianist Michael Sahl; violist Jean Depuey; and flutist Karl Kraber. The Creative Associates at SUNY Buffalo explored the avant-garde in a wide variety of 20th Century styles, and performed regularly in Buffalo and in New York’s Carnegie recital Hall. Some of the results of this group included the first book of madrigals by George Crumb, Vibone by Vinko Globokar, Passion Selon Sade by Sylvano Bussotti, and Songs From the Japanese by Fred Myrow. From this group John became involved in smaller “sub-groups” with Buell Neidlinger, Charles Gayle, and Andrew White; and a trio with George Crumb and Paul Zukofsky.
Relocating on the West Coast, John became involved in learning Tabla and other hand drums traditional to non-European cultures, and since 1970, has been coordinator of the percussion program at California Institute of the Arts. This breadth of background has led John to such diverse musical involvements as concerts with John McLaughlin’s Shakti, performing in Frank Zappa’s Abnuceals Emukka Orchestra, recording with , and a tour to the Soviet Union with Robert Shaw, to name only a few. John continues to be involved in contemporary music performance, studio work, and non-EuroAmerican music performance.
Incorporating many of the styles which have influenced him, John has co-founded two all-percussion groups The Repercussion Unit in 1976 with Larry Stein, Ed Mann, James Hildebrandt, Greg Johnson, Paul Anceau, and Steven “Lucky” Mosko; and The Hands On’Semble with Andrew Grueschow, Randy Gloss and Austin Wrinkle in 1997.