How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Solo violin is a rare and often deadly format in jazz. The problem is that most players don't properly utilize the textural and harmonic possibilities of the instrument in the solo setting. Well, Malcolm Goldstein suffers from none of these problems. In this recording, taped at 1997's Fire in the Valley Festival in Amherst, Massachusetts, Goldstein creeps out from his reclusive Vermont home to prove the critics wrong.
Goldstein's control of the violin is truly massive and bewildering. He flies across the strings at light speed, tossing out chords like crazy while making eerie scratching and whooshing sounds. It's really impossible to describe in words, but Goldstein stretches the limits of the instrument to intense new possibilities. At points he makes sounds that bear a strange resemblance to the human voice (and that's not when he's singing while playing). Among the templates he approaches on this record are a Bosnian folk song (with a lilting dance feel interspersed between more abstract parts), an Ornette Coleman composition based on the idea of a musical river flowing "freely into its own musical space," and a "song of overcoming" dedicated to Rosa Parks, which works with loose references to the blues. It's a fascinating and joyful range of musical experience, delivered with the highest level of virtuosity.
Track Listing: Soundings I (1997); from "Configurations in Darkness" (1995); "when the river overflows" (1997); "my feet is
tired but my soul is rested" (1985); Soundings II (1997).