Eventually Maceo Parker heard me and hired me in his band, and that's when I really started getting experience on the Hammond organ. I literally learned on the gig.
Pianist/organist Larry Goldings is a player whose name has turned up more and more over the years on projects with some of the top names in the music business. His own projects, largely his organ trio, have always been artistic successes.
He continues to stretch, exploring opportunities to grow and explore his varied music interests. He's still being called by top-flight musicians to join a tour, or a recording session, and at the same time Goldings keeps his fine trio working. His reputation is the result of a long road of studying, working jam sessions, and getting involved with great professionals at a relatively young age.
He has developed as one of the more skilled players, but isn't just a technician. He approaches music with an open mind and an affinity to look at things in different ways, with equal parts freedom and tradition, as can be witnessed in his latest CD, Quartet, a departure from the organ trio setting. The 11th record under his own name, it's a sharp disc on which some outstanding and varied musical minds develop a synergy that carries the day. There are different feels through the 12 offerings, and all of them carried out in fine fashion.
The recording starts out with Goldings on piano, ("Singsong") laying out a simple melody that the band carries in a loose, yet structured fashion. The trumpet of New York City veteran trumpeter John Sneider is melodic and uncluttered. Matt Wilson's drums create the right underpinning and Ben Allison's bass is weaves in; unhurried and strong. "Au Bord De L'Eau is an interesting, moving jazz line giving Goldings room to express his fondness for melody and harmony. It swings. And the CD goes on from there, with splashes from Goldings' pen, and plenty of contributions from the others. They take on Monk and Bjork in the process. And the old "Hesitation Blues, with the delightful Madeleine Peyroux herself a breath of fresh air on the current music sceneis deliciously cool. Sneider's trumpet fills are on the mark and Geldings' organ is expressive. It holds interest throughout.
Goldings is pleased with the CD, and glad to be taking music in a directions away from his organ triowith Peter Bernstein on guitar and Bill Stewart on drumswhich itself has provided some fine music for over a decade, particularly The Intimacy of the Blues (Verve, 1991) and Sweet Science (Palmetto, 2002).
He's known for his work on the Hammond B3, an instrument that was rejuvenated a decade or so ago and is being put to good use by several players nowadays. It has perhaps surpassed his notoriety as a fine pianist (though that may be changing, as his opportunities on the acoustic instrument grow). But the Boston-area native fell into it the instrument slowly, even unintentionally, after leaving music school in the late 1980s.
"Around 1988 or 89, I started playing a portable version. I never really had experience at that time with a real Hammond B3. But I was interested in organ-type of keyboards. I started the group with Pete and Bill probably around '89 or '90.
"As a kid when I was first getting into jazz, I tended to play baselines on the piano. Somehow I gravitated toward that. Probably because I had a love for a pianist by the name of David McKenna from the New England area, says Goldings. "His approach was always with a walking baseline. That's how I approached it. I think there was a connection between that and actually wanting to walk baseline on the organ. I was pretty good at it. It had pretty good independence in that way. I like the control factor or something.
He says among the records he enjoyed growing up were Billy Preston and Aretha Franklin R&B, and Wes Montgomery with organ legend Jimmy Smith. He continued to play the instrument, and "eventually Maceo Parker (a stalwart of soul legend James Brown's horn section) heard me and hired me in his band, and that's when I really started getting experience on the Hammond organ. I literally learned on the gig. Then through Maceo's producer, I made my first record (Intimacy of the Blues). Ironically, at least to me at the time, it was an organ record, even though I barely knew it. That kind of got me on the map as an organ player. It was totally not my intention, but that's sort of how it happened.
His organ trio became very well established in the 1990s, and is one Goldings is not going to drop any time soon. "It was, and still is, the truest group of mine; the most comfortable group situation I've ever been in, he says.
Goldings grew up listening to pop music of the 1970s, but seemed to always have a fondness and feel for interesting harmonies. That is still quite evident today.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.