Larry Goldings: Quartet (2006)
In the span of his relatively young career, Larry Goldings has run the gamut of styles from mainstream jazz to R&B, sonic explorations, and pop. With Quartet, he stays for the most part within the mainstream. But even within that mode, the record is unusual and unique for the eclectic blend of Goldings' interests and influences. Sticking primarily to the piano (Goldings is most well-known for his organ chops), he includes tunes by everyone from Björk and Monk to Gabriel Fauré. He even throws in a traditional American folk song, explaining, "In the past few years I have delved into such a wide variety of music that denying those influences in the making of this record would have been dishonest.
Goldings' bandmates (Ben Allison, bass; John Sneider, trumpet and cornet; Matt Wilson, drums) share his diverse interests and adapt themselves skilfully to the different situations he sets up. Sneider in particular plays beautifully, at times resembling Terrence Blanchard, at others resembling Miles Davis during his electric period, but always sounding fresh and new. Wilson adds unique colors to the mix as well, not necessarily keeping conventional time.
In fact, some of the more subtle pieces on the record, including "Singsong, "Cocoon and others, are influenced by Miles' In A Silent Way, with layers of music converging to give the illusion of a greater whole. Goldings' playing is as original and lyrical as usual. He never overplays, much of the time laying back and merely adding color to Sneider's notes. His rhythm work is simply outstanding.
The only complaint one may have about this latest record is that it lacks long and developed solos or songs. Most of the tunes clock in below four minutes, not allowing this band to really stretch out. This is a shame, as the players' chops are significant. But it is a small price to pay.
The emphasis here is not so much on improvisation as it is on composition and exploration. Goldings and his band create a coherent whole, which is no easy task considering the diversity of material. The pace is never pushed too hard, but many of the tunes swing subtly. Quartet is another significant addition to Goldings' already formidable catalogue, cementing his reputation as one of the true virtuosos on his instrument. Highly recommended.
Track Listing: Singsong; Au Bord De L'eau; Valsinha; The Wedding; Hesitation Blues; Jackie-ing; Dario and Bario; A Dream About Jaki Byard; Cocoon; Hidalgo; Denouement; We Shall Overcome.
Personnel: Larry Goldings: piano, Wurlitzer, organ, harmonium, accordion, glock; John Sneider: trumpet; Ben Allison: bass; Matt Wilson: drums, percussion; Medeleine Peyroux: vocals (5).