A comfortable familiarity permeates Go Home, the latest project from veteran clarinetist Ben Goldberg and the first offering from his Bag Production Records. Culled from both studio and live cuts, these feel-good romps suggest the intimacy of a jam session. He enlists longtime collaborators Charlie Hunter on seven-string guitar, Ron Miles on trumpet and cornet and Scott Amendola on drums, and their easy rapport fosters the music's success.
Trafficking in meaty mid- and slow-cooking tempos, the group is never in a rush. Brass and reed introduce "TGO"; entering by turns, Hunter and Amendola patiently build a beat under Goldberg's first flight, the guitarist comping and providing the bass line in his inimitable style. He locks in with Amendola to create a driving pulse for the catchy unison horns of "Wazee" and is the featured soloist, before Goldberg and Miles trade spirited phrases. On "Root and Branch," a live track, Goldberg unleashes a steady flow of ideas with high-note punctuations amid swirling lines, which Miles counters with stately suspended tones. Sometimes complementary, sometimes contrasting, the two engage effectively.
"Ethan's Song" begins atmospheric and sparse, until the horns unfurl a sprightly line, inducing another funky Amendola groove. It propels a twangy Hunter run wrapped around his slick bass flourish, with the horns eventually embarking on a street-band-like exchange. The minimal theme of "Isosceles" leaves copious room for improvisation and Miles crafts a tuneful story with dynamic range, embellished by Amendola's dramatic flurries. The formal unison horn introduction of "Reparation" features bright notes and a chamber-esque tone, with Goldberg and then Miles taking lyrical solos. It abruptly changes when the drums and guitar rock a pulsing backbeat and quicker pace, eliciting another round of horn sparring.
The relaxed and unpretentious vibe of Go Home is an inviting and auspicious start for Goldberg's newest venture.
TGO; Wazee; Lace; Root and Branch; Head and Tails; Ethan's Song; Inevitable; Isosceles; Reparation; Papermaker.
Ben Goldberg: clarinet; Charlie Hunter: 7-string guitar; Scott Amendola: drums; Ron Miles: cornet and G trumpet.