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Larry Goldings: Versatility of Keyboards... And Music

R.J. DeLuke By

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Larry Goldings: It comes out Jan. 24... Usually I try to find a tune on the CD that seems to some how sum up the idea behind the record. But this time, I think the thing that sets it apart most from my other records is that it's not my organ trio. All my records have been with my organ trio with Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart. I thought this would be the most direct way to set it apart.

I'm playing a lot more piano on it, rather than just organ. I wanted to make that clear from the start, in a way. That was only after weeks of trying to get a decent title. But it seemed to the point. I never really thought too much of the significance of titles.

AAJ: You've played with (drummer) Matt Wilson, but why this group. Why (bassist) Ben Allison, John Sneider (trumpet) and Madeleine Peyroux?

LG: Matt and Ben were two guys who I had worked with in the studio. I felt that they were a great combination, not only musically, but in their conceptual ideas when putting together on-the-spot arrangements. We worked together on a Curtis Stigers record and I really liked how Ben and Matt would not be afraid to chime in with ideas. They were usually really creative ideas. They're very quick thinkers in that way. When you make a jazz record you usually have very limited time. The more spontaneous and creative and imaginative the musicians, the more you're going to get out of a couple days in the studio.

I've always found that with Peter and Bill as well. We get stuff together very quickly. But when thinking about doing a non-trio record and who all had those attributes, I immediately thought of Matt and Ben. Musically speaking, those two also don't exist in a rigid stylistic box. They're very open musicians. Both have a sense of tradition as well, but their openness is something that I've always been attracted to. I definitely had in mind a more open sound for this record.

John Sneider is one of my oldest New York friends. I met him shortly after I moved to New York in 1986. We've only, until now, played a lot of little gigs around town. I was on part of John's record once. But it seems like too many years had passed since we had really been able to collaborate in a more thorough, creative way. Also, he's very under-appreciated. Particularly now, because during the day he works for a big jingle company, JFM in New York. He's done that for five years or so. He does a lot less playing and he's a lot less on the playing scene. Ironically, it made him a better player somehow. He seems to get better and better over the years. I also brought him into one of the Curtis Stigers records and got to hear what he was sounding like these days. It was so refreshing to hear him. I've always known him to be a very open musician. Also a good composer, arranger. Incredible ears, great in a free situation. He can very quickly and easily hear what's going on harmonically.

With the kind of spontaneous situation we had with a couple days in the studio, and wanting to do some free stuff, you have to pick your musicians very carefully and find people who, in the moment, really engage and take the music someplace.

That was the core group, and then Madeleine. I had been working with her and did her record (Careless Love). We've done a bunch of gigs together. I really like her personally and musically and felt it would add another element to the record.

Her record was very well thought out. Larry Klein, who produced it, put a lot of thought into the repertoire and the approach. I thought it turned out really lovely.

AAJ: Some of the tunes you found are nice and unusual. Where did you find some of these tunes?

LG: Abdullah Ibrahim ("The Wedding") is someone I've been listening to for years. Peter Bernstein turned me onto him way back in the mid-80s when I first met Peter at the Eastman School of Music. We went to this summer high school jazz program. That's where I met Pete. Pete was into all sorts of things that I had no idea about, including Abdullah Ibrahim. I became instantly attracted to his music. "The Wedding is always something I've gone back and listened to. I always felt he was strangely under recorded. His tunes are so memorable and catchy and soulful and have so much charm to them. I was going to record it on piano, but we decided at the last minute that I would try on organ, just to bring something different to it. I've always known about that song. I might have played it a few times with my organ trio way back when.

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