313

Stu Goldberg / Cassius Khan: Dark Clouds

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Stu Goldberg / Cassius Khan: Dark Clouds Stu Goldberg garnered initial attention as a member of John McLaughlin's mid to late-1970s Mahavishnu Orchestra and One Truth Band, but the keyboardist seemed to disappear off the map soon after. In the intervening years he's been busy as a film scorer and has recently begun to re-established himself as a leader on a series of albums focusing on his acoustic piano skills. But while Going Home (Rhombus, 2001) and Dedication (Dedication, 2002) were more conventional in terms of instrumentation, general jazz-centricity and consistent lineups, Dark Clouds is another beast entirely.

Goldberg met Canadian-based tablaist/vocalist Cassius Khan at a local club in Penticton, Canada, and a visit shortly thereafter to Goldberg's studio found the two improvising as if they'd been playing together for years. While those recordings aren't the basis of Dark Clouds, they set the stage for a subsequent session where two lengthy improvisations bookend two shorter pieces: a song by vocalist Jennifer Lauren Goldberg and a pure percussion duet.

Lauren Goldberg has a whispery yet soulful voice. "Rain," with a different treatment, could easily be transposed into the pop world, while on the nineteen-minute title track, her loose call-and-response with Khan's plaintive singing demonstrate even greater breadth. "Keherwa" is based on a rhythmic cycle with Goldberg on frame drum and clay udu igbah, trading off with Khan before the two blend together in exciting unison.

But the core of Dark Clouds is the two improvisations. Goldberg's stream-of-consciousness approach is reminiscent of Keith Jarrett, but with a stronger world music focus. The undeniably virtuosic player builds the 21-minute "Ragamala" from empty space into greater drama that's as much rooted in gospel and blues as it is Indian classical music. Khan's equally capable, and while there are moments when the two feel a touch out of synch—Goldberg laying down broad and spare chords while Khan plays at lightning speed—more often than not, they work well together. This is a meeting of equals, each capable of following the other's lead but equally, through moments of tension, driving the music in other directions.

What makes the improvisations on Dark Clouds work is the feeling that, despite the spontaneity at play, there's a subconscious game plan. Duets can often be the most vulnerable of musical interactions, since there's nowhere to hide if the players aren't in touch. But while the risks taken on Dark Cloud result in brief moments where Goldberg and Khan have to catch up with one another, for the most part they move with a singular and unspoken purpose.


Track Listing: Ragamala; Rain; Keherwa; Dark Clouds.

Personnel: Stu Goldberg: piano, percussion; Cassius Khan: tabla, vocals; Jennifer Lauren Goldberg: vocals (2,4).

Title: Dark Clouds | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Dedication Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Such A Sky CD/LP/Track Review Such A Sky
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31 CD/LP/Track Review Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 25, 2017
Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "Sir Nebula" CD/LP/Track Review Sir Nebula
by Doug Collette
Published: September 18, 2016
Read "Unlimited 1, Live at Catalina's" CD/LP/Track Review Unlimited 1, Live at Catalina's
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 22, 2016
Read "Through The Glass" CD/LP/Track Review Through The Glass
by Nicola Negri
Published: March 25, 2017
Read "Bright Moments" CD/LP/Track Review Bright Moments
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: April 19, 2017
Read "Unstatic" CD/LP/Track Review Unstatic
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 11, 2016
Read "Mind Behind Closed Eyes" CD/LP/Track Review Mind Behind Closed Eyes
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 22, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.