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Album Review

Ben Goldberg: Everything Happens To Be.


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Ben Goldberg: Everything Happens To Be.
If you do not listen too closely, there are parts of this download-only release that sound soothing and gentle. That is not really the case and that is the fun part of this music. When the reed players play a pretty or swinging melody line, there is always some irritant factor elsewhere in the band to spice things up.

All of these musicians are known for their experimental tendencies and have worked together before in various combinations. The leader, clarinetist Ben Goldberg has recorded with tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin and also worked with guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Tomas Fujiwara in the trio The Out Louds. Meanwhile bassist Michael Formanek joins Halvorson and Fujiwara in the trio Thumbscrew. The five of them as a unit create a spirited blend of unpredictable craziness here.

Goldberg and Eskelin have a lovely unison sound on pieces like "Cold Weather" and "Fred Hampton" that is disrupted by Halvorson's woozy guitar warping, while their swinging Jimmy Giuffre-like harmonies on "21" are overcome by an echoing maelstrom coming from the entire rhythm section. The quasi-Brazilian melody of "Everything Happens To Be" features Goldberg solo in a romantic mood but Halvorson's shivery tones again tilt the frame in a pleasantly odd manner.

"Chorale Type" opens with a formal group statement reminiscent of Bach before going into a prickly guitar and clarinet duet and a dense pizzicato bass solo broken up with periods of the entire band billowing with over-the-top floridity. "Tomas Plays The Drums" lives up to its title. The drummer rolls and tumbles between spates of low clarinet honks and metallic guitar shards, a vortex of sound that eventually congeals into lumbering bass-heavy prog rock. "To-Ron-To" has a perky theme with the reeds chirping on top like cuckoos but as it goes along, all the instruments start going slightly out of phase with one another, creating a cheerfully disorienting sound.

Much of this album sounds like something out of the ICP Orchestra's repertoire, lively music where the players follow conventional musical outlines but find ways to play through, around and each other in an off-kilter fashion that comes out sounding lively and fun. This is a bright and slightly surreal musical romp.

Track Listing

What About; 21; Fred Hampton; Everything Happens To Be.; Cold Weather; Chorale Type; Tomas Plays the Drums; Long Last Moment; To-Ron-To; Abide With Me


Ben Goldberg: clarinet; Mary Halvorson: guitar; Ellery Eskelin: saxophone; Michael Formanek: bass, acoustic; Tomas Fujiwara: drums.

Album information

Title: Everything Happens To Be. | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: BAG Production

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