Ben Goldberg: Go Home (2010)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
This disc rocks, which is not something normally said about sets led by a clarinetist. But it doesn't begin that way. The sound of Go Home, from clarinetist/composer Ben Goldberg, croons to life with a smooth and creamy licorice stick/cornet unison interlude on "TGO," with the dark wood-wielding leader joined by brass man Ron Miles for a duo introduction. Then, thirty seconds in, the crunch and slam rock element rears its head, pushed to the surface by 7-String guitar ace Charlie Hunter and drummer Scott Amendola. With the rhythm team on board, Goldberg takes a snaky, writhing solo that wouldn't sound out of place on a Benny Goodman set, except for the mid-tempo, Neil Young trudge of the bass/guitar "team."
"Wasee" marches ahead with a deep groove and rock-solid determination, sounding like a Klezmer/jazz/garage-rock hybrid. Hunter stings and crackles on his solo; Amendola lays down a heavy, metronomic dance beat; and Goldberg and Miles weave elastic lines around each other.
Four of the ten Goldberg originals were recorded live. The nine-minute "Root and Branch" has a loose and spontaneous feeling during Goldberg's extended solo in front of a crunchy, restrained rhythm. The leader gives way to Miles, who blows with a relaxed eloquence, leading into Hunter's prickly, jagged, razor-sharp lines, which resonate off the garage walls and snap around Amendola's muscular percussion.
The appeal of Go Home is due, in large part, to the smooth old world atmosphere of the clarinet and trumpet, underlain by the slightly ragged, sometimes grungy rock moods laid down by Hunter and Amendolaa traditional approach mixing it up with a forward-leaning raw energy that results in a lively and sometimes tempestuous marriage.
Track Listing: TGO; Wazee; Lace; Root and Branch; Head and Tails; Ethan's Song; Inevitable; Isosceles; Reparation; Papermaker.
Personnel: Ben Goldberg: clarinet; Charlie Hunter: 7-String guitar; Scott Amendola: drums; Ron Miles: cornet, G trumpet.
Record Label: BAG Production