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Larry Goldings/Peter Bernstein/Bill Stewart: Perpetual Pendulum


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Larry Goldings/Peter Bernstein/Bill Stewart: Perpetual Pendulum
Keyboardist Larry Goldings, guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Bill Stewart have some history. It extends back to performing in clubs in the late Eighties and then, via decidedly circuitous routes, recording together as a threesome in the Nineties. It's a confluence of circumstance and talent that would continue through the three's appearances on a pair of the keyboardist's solo albums, Whatever It Takes (Warner Brothers, 1995) and Big Stuff (Warner Brothers, 1996), before Toy Tunes (Pirouette, 2017) overtly continued the standing precedent. Perhaps as a direct acknowledgment of the alliance as stated in the billing, that work elevated the already high standards of the three's collaborations, a progressively sophisticated process that continues on Perpetual Pendulum.

With the very title of the album an apt reference to the constant metamorphosis of Goldings, Bernstein and Stewart's musical energy, it makes perfect sense for the eleven track outing to commence with a lithe swing into a Wayne Shorter number. "United" is an ideal means to begin the sixty-four minutes of recordings from two days at Sear Sound in New York: each of the principals has the chance to flex his muscles, in doing so forthrightly and confidently suggesting what they are capable of on the ensuing ten tracks, that is, illustrating how all three speak a similarly elegant instrumental language, its nuances arising from the finesse applied in utilizing the shared vocabulary.

Six of the selections consist of material outside the band, but choices like the aforementioned opener, Gary Bartz' "Libra" and Duke Ellington's "Reflections in D" are all of a piece with the originals. All songs are replete with unexpected twists and turns the band matches with its tasty but unpredictable musicianship. Maintaining the same equitable balance to which the three so naturally adhere as they perform together, the principals all chip in self-composed titles: Goldings belies the spare restraint of the musicianship by titling his "Let's Get Lots," while Stewart affords some free reign to his inner social conscience with the thinly-disguised political screed "FU Donald."

One of Bernstein's pair is the title tune, judiciously placed in the number nine slot as the album hits its homestretch. The positioning thus would seem to purposefully evoke the very raison d'etre of the record, that is, he and his two venerable partners returning to revisit their natural chemistry and, in the very act of doing so, recharging it to reach an ever higher level of instinctual exchange. Of course, Goldings, Bernstein and Stewart have always transcended the preconceptions that come with the description of their union as an "organ trio," but never more so than now.

Bringing to the reunions those lessons learned during other endeavors conducted between their joint ventures is exactly that which renders sparkling what which might otherwise sound strained, for instance, yet another revisit of Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's "Come Rain Or Come Shine." As an ever-so-understated close to Perpetual Pendulum, this relaxed take on "Django," composed by Modern Jazz Quartet's John Lewis, reminds the ebb and flow of this LP is so smooth it's almost indiscernible.

But then, that's an accurate description of the overall dynamic at work in the playing of this trio. No matter what activities Goldings, Bernstein and Stewart engage in, their simpatico, combined with their shared experience, will always (hopefully) swing back to working together in the format within which they have excelled so long and continue to do so on this project.

Track Listing

United; Let's Get Lots; Libra; Prelude; FU Donald; Come Rain Or Come Shine; Little Green Men; Reflections in D; Perpetual Pendulum; Lurkers; Django.


Larry Goldings: organ, Hammond B3; Peter Bernstein: guitar; Bill Stewart: drums.

Album information

Title: Perpetual Pendulum | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Smoke Sessions Records

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