Sentimentality gets a raw deal in the eyes of many a jazz fan and journalist. Somewhere along the line, a lot of artists began indulging in overwrought expressions of emotion in an effort to artificially enhance their work with a sense of depth that might not truly exist, but that shouldn't taint the very idea of sentimentality in song. Pianist Larry Goldings' In My Room is the perfect example of music that thrives on small doses of the sentimental, and is all the better for it.
Goldings' nostalgia-laced program of solo performances mixes pure slices of old-time Americana, like Stephen Foster's "Beautiful Dreamer" and "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," into a musical potpourri containing Broadway ("Maybe," from 1977's Annie), Abdullah Ibrahim ("The Wedding"), Brian Wilson ("In My Room"), Joni Mitchell ("All I Want"), and more.
Goldings distills the music down to its melodic essence, getting to the emotional core of the music with complete honesty and integrity. While a certain sense of solitude lives and lingers within a good number of these performances, the program isn't all cloud-covered in conception. Myriad moods are covered through Goldings' originals, as he contributes a cheery nod to New Orleans ("Crawdaddy") and prepared piano interludes that are graceful ("Interlude No. 1"), groovy ("Interlude No. 2") and spirited ("Interlude No. 3").
While those pieces point out the different moods he conjures throughout the album, his work can also capture the fragile emotional state that resides within many of the classic covers on this record. "All My Born Days" is sad, yet resolute, with an Irish traditional-meets-Randy Newman film score feel to it and "The Flower Song," coated with Hammond organ and accordion, points to blooming life with a music that's simplistic, yet satisfying in its beauty.
According to RB Goodman's liner notes, the concept behind this album was a simple one: "To position the listener as close to the creative process of the artist as possible with immediacy and lack of artifice...to sit beside Larry, in his room." Mission accomplished.
In My Room; Beautiful Dreamer; Crawdaddy; Interlude No. 1; Take Me Out To The Ballgame; The Flower Song; All I Want; Roach; Maybe; All My Born Days; Interlude No. 2; Everything Happens To Me; A Rose For Emily; Libre; Interlude No. 3; The Wedding; Interlude No. 4; Here, There And Everywhere.
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