Reviews that mention Ben Goldberg

September 12, 2019

Ben Goldberg

Good Day for Cloud Fishing
Pyroclastic PRO 5

Simon Nabatov

Readings Gileya Revisited

Leo CD LR 856

Big Tent

I Am Waiting

NotTwo MW 989-2

Pneuma

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Songlines SGL 1629-2

Horace Tapscott/Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra/Great Voice of UGMAA

Why Don’t You Listen?

Dark Tree DT (RS) 11

Something in the Air: Adapting Poetry to Jazz and Vice Versa

By Ken Waxman

Although the sentiment conjured up by the phrase Poetry and Jazz is of scruffy beatniks intoning verse to the accompaniment of a stoned bongo player, the intersection of poetry and improvised music has a longer history. As far back as the 1920s poets like Langston Hughes integrated jazz energy into their work and subsequent interaction involved whole groups of literary and musical types, with notable instances in San Francisco, Liverpool and Vancouver up until the present day. Some of the discs here extend the idea of sounds complementing words, while others work on the more difficult task of integrating both elements. MORE

May 12, 2019

Kirk Knuffke/Steven Herring

Witness
Steeplechase SCCD 31859

By Ken Waxman

Shredding conventions, jazz cornetist Kirk Knuffke teams up with classically trained baritone Steven Herring for off-the-wall performances that range from operatic classics and spirituals to poetry-set-to-music and standards. Raising the idiosyncratic interpretation stakes still higher other accompaniment is from the patterning of Russ Lossing’s piano and the gruff oom pah pah of Ben Goldberg’s contrabass clarinet. Remarkably most of the transitions work.

Unsurprisingly Herring aces the declarative nuances of “Iago’s Credo” and “Questo Amor” with studied formalism. But his creativity isn’t solipsistic. Goldberg’s stentorian puffs and Kirk’s capillary peeps match operatic chortles on the former. Meanwhile the amorous exposition on the later owes as much to plunger brass notes and seductive piano chords as ebullient vocalizing. “Witness”, “A City Called Heaven” and other traditional religious songs fare as well. However mellow horn parts and a broad melodic sweeps from the pianist on Witness as well as carefully modulated vamps from all the instrumentalists produces subtle swing on both tunes, leaving the emotion to Herring. The baritone’s parlando serves him appropriately when Knuffke’s musical setting of Carl Sandburg’s “Subway” is transformed into song. But the recitation is mated with the cornetist’s passionate grace notes to reach its goal. In fact the only miscue is Sun Ra’s “The Satellites are Spinning”. While clarinet snarls and cornet blats enliven it, the vocalist’s theatrical declarations miss its sardonic and humorous aspects. Witness works wonderfully as long as the musical alterations remain down to earth. MORE

September 6, 2016

Myra Melford + Ben Goldberg

Dialogue
Bag Productions BAG 010

By Ken Waxman

Chamber music-styled jazz that still manages to inject spunk into compositions otherwise replete with soft-hued detailing, pianist Myra Melford and clarinetist Ben Goldberg make the most of studied interactions on these 13 tracks, mostly composed by the pianist. Able to matter-of-factly scoot from rhythmic swing to ascetic improvisations with the uncomplicated aplomb of a trapeze team making their acrobatic feats seem commonplace, only in rare instances does the duo grandstand with extended techniques. The watchword here is nuance. MORE

October 21, 2015

James Falzone/The Renga Ensemble

The Room Is
Allos Documents 010

Like a bee which continuously transfers nectar from one plant to another, Chicago-based composer/clarinetist James Falzone flashes among Jazz, academe, so-called classical, liturgical, World and improvised musics. Illustrative of this approach is the six-piece, all-reeds, Renga Ensemble, which melds compositions and improvisations. Unlike the flying drone not all the textures Falzone conveys are sweet. But the 14 tracks here could serve as textbook example of how to operate a woodwind ensemble. MORE

July 11, 2015

Kris Davis

Save Your Breath
Clean Feed CF322 CD

By Ken Waxman

Consolidating her considerable musical gifts, Canadian-born, New York-based Kris Davis organized a uniquely constituted octet here to premiere or bolster her compositions. Confirming her range, the eight tunes are breezy and animated in spots, while looped around a dense, metal-like core. With the ensemble consisting of Ben Goldberg, Oscar Noriega, Joachim Badenhorst and Andrew Bishop playing different sized clarinets; drummer Jim Black and guitarist Nate Radley; plus Gary Versace on organ and Davis’ piano, the engendered textures frequently infer many associations, often during the same tune. MORE

April 12, 2015

Ben Goldberg

Orphic Machine
BAG Productions BAG 007

Ananda Gari

T-Duality

Auand Records AU 9041

Tineke Postma

Sonic Halo

Challenge Records CR 73370

Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York

Shiki

Libra Records 215-036

SITA: Cutting-Edge Free Improvisation at The Music Gallery

By Ken Waxman

Major improvisers from elsewhere frequently play Toronto, but not as often do they appear with an all-star line-up. That’s what happens on April 29 when alto saxophonist Tim Berne’s Snakeoil is in concert at The Music Gallery. Berne, who has been on the cutting edge of advanced jazz for 30-odd years, arrives with three younger players who have distinguished themselves on the New York scene: fellow reedist Oscar Noriega, pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer Ches Smith. This being the 21th Century and past the age of consistently working groups, each – including Berne – is involved in many other projects. MORE

June 20, 2014

Festival Report

Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon
By Ken Waxman

Wood fabrication in many forms, from house renovation to cabinetry, is one of the industries in the area surrounding the small Austrian town of Ulrichberg. Appropriately enough this year’s 29th Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon May 1 to 3, featured a wood-based instrument in nearly every performance.

First among equals were French double bassist Joëlle Léandre, performing in a quartet with Swiss soprano and tenor saxophonist Urs Leimgruber, Austrian guitarist Burkhard Stangl and Rome-based, American composer Alvin Curran who played piano and electronics. An experienced improviser since his time with Musica Elettronica Viva in the ‘60s, Curran’s tapping on piano strings prepared with cymbals made a perfect percussive counterpoint to Leimgruber’s key slaps and Stangl’s vertical rubbing of a violin bow on guitar strings. Léandre’s typically disruptive response to this was semi-romantic bowing. Later on, when Curran’s wheezy harmonica and steady piano chording referenced “St. James Infirmary”, she reversed course to slap a bass line as Stangl strummed appropriately. When not showcasing high-velocity string sawing which complemented Leimgruber’s extended techniques, Léandre’s ascending, pseudo-operatic cries and throat gurgles kept the program constantly fascinating to the extent that the 45-minute performance seemed to flash by in an instant. MORE

February 11, 2014

Ben Goldberg

Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues
BAG Productions BAG 003

Ben Goldberg

Unfold Ordinary Mind

BAG Productions BAG 004

By Ken Waxman

Bay area clarinetist Ben Goldberg has a consistent vision. The evidence is in how these two sessions, which were recorded four years apart but released simultaneously, don’t reveal any startling stylistic differences. The main divergence between 2008’s Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues and 2012’s Unfold Ordinary Mind is that different casts create different emphasis. MORE

February 11, 2014

Ben Goldberg

Unfold Ordinary Mind
BAG Productions BAG 004

Ben Goldberg

Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues

BAG Productions BAG 003

By Ken Waxman

Bay area clarinetist Ben Goldberg has a consistent vision. The evidence is in how these two sessions, which were recorded four years apart but released simultaneously, don’t reveal any startling stylistic differences. The main divergence between 2008’s Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues and 2012’s Unfold Ordinary Mind is that different casts create different emphasis. MORE

January 8, 2014

Artist Feature:

Ben Goldberg
By Ken Waxman

When Bay area clarinetist Ban Goldberg describes the creative process that constantly compels him to compose new music and seek out new collaborators, he sounds like the partner in a love affair: “When I hear someone I like, I have to play music with him or her. I need that person in my life.”

It may take a while after that first infatuation, but eventually Goldberg composes music which turns this attraction into reality. For instance the genesis of Unfold Ordinary Mind, one of his recent CDs, was the result of hearing tenor saxophone Ellery Eskelin and having a vision of having Eskelin playing alongside tenor saxophonist Rob Sudduth, a long-time Goldberg associate. “It’s a palpable feeling I have of how the music will sound,” he relates. That group, filled out by drummer Ches Smith and guitarist Nels Cline, plays NYU’s Law Space this month as part of the Winter Jazz Fest; and with pianist Craig Taborn in place of Cline will be part of an extended Goldberg residency at the Stone in February. New Yorkers can also experience Goldberg in a unique January setting at Roulette, as one of four bass clarinetists in pianist Kris Davis’ octet. The reed man, who has never played with either Davis or Taborn before, says he looks forward to the challenges. “It’s scary in the right way,” he affirms. MORE

June 23, 2013

Ben Goldberg

Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues
BAG Productions BAG 003

Ben Goldberg

Unfold Ordinary Mind

BAG Productions BAG 004

Keeping too much of a low profile, Bay area-based clarinetist Ben Goldberg hasn’t released many CDs under his own name for the past several years. He finally confirms his compositional and improvisational heft with these two sessions, recorded four years apart but released simultaneously.

In truth Goldberg, who often works in the Tin Hat group and with pianist Myra Melford, is so consistent in his vision that there aren’t any startling stylistic differences between 2008’s Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues and Unfold Ordinary Mind from last year. The main divergence is the sonic colors provided by the sidemen, although steady drummer Ches Smith makes both dates. MORE

June 23, 2013

Ben Goldberg

Unfold Ordinary Mind
BAG Productions BAG 004

Ben Goldberg

Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues

BAG Productions BAG 003

Keeping too much of a low profile, Bay area-based clarinetist Ben Goldberg hasn’t released many CDs under his own name for the past several years. He finally confirms his compositional and improvisational heft with these two sessions, recorded four years apart but released simultaneously.

In truth Goldberg, who often works in the Tin Hat group and with pianist Myra Melford, is so consistent in his vision that there aren’t any startling stylistic differences between 2008’s Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues and Unfold Ordinary Mind from last year. The main divergence is the sonic colors provided by the sidemen, although steady drummer Ches Smith makes both dates. MORE

May 1, 2006

BEN GOLDBERG QUINTET

the door, the hat, the chair, the fact
Cyptogramophone CG126

Celebrating the achievements of irreplaceable soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy (1934-2004), this suite of compositions by clarinetist Ben Goldberg appropriately salutes the longtime American expatriate by not attempting to replicate the honoree’s sound.

Although he briefly studied with Lacy, Berkeley, Calif.-based Goldberg’s concepts are both gentler and more tonal than what Lacy achieved. “Blinks” is the only Lacy composition performed, although the clarinetist adds to this eulogy on “Facts”, by composing music for a written statement of the soprano saxophonist’s creed. MORE