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Larry Goldings/Peter Bernstein/Bill Stewart: Ramshackle Serenade

Dan Bilawsky By

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Few artistic partnerships are as delightfully durable as the trio of organist Larry Goldings, guitarist Peter Bernstein, and drummer Bill Stewart. These men have often recorded under the moniker of the "Larry Goldings Trio" over the past two-plus decades, but this has never been a band to favor one player over another. Each man has always owned equal shares in this group—demonstrated on strong showings like The Intimacy Of The Blues (Verve, 1991), Moonbird (Palmetto, 1999), and Sweet Science (Palmetto, 2002)—and that hasn't changed. Goldings' name may still come first on this album spine, but it's all for one and one for all with these guys.

Ramshackle Serenade finds this group covering a lot of ground. The album opens with Goldings' "Roach"—a slow blues in five—which proves to be one of the standout performances. Goldings and Bernstein both cook while Stewart masterfully slices up the time in endlessly inventive ways. The trio then visits Brazilian territory with Jobim's "Luiza," throws one down the middle with Bernstein's aptly-titled "Simple As That," and works in a rhythmically floating environment on "Ramshackle Serenade." The title track is all about rubato rumination, as Goldings and Bernstein paint melodies while Stewart lightly colors in the background. Goldings' "Mr. Meagles," sitting at the midpoint of the album, is a great example of the way this trio manages to create music that speaks relatively softly and carries a mean groove; it's low flame music that can still cause third degree burns.

The second half of the album contains a "Sweet And Lovely" that grows hotter over time, a pair of originals—Stewart's hip-and-intoxicating "Blue Sway" and Bernstein's lively "Useless Metaphor"—and an album-closing look at Horace Silver's oft-covered "Peace." After all these years, this trio still manages to make magic whenever it hits the studio. It doesn't get much better than this.

Track Listing: Roach; Luiza' Simple As That; Ramshackle Serenade; Mr. Meagles; Sweet And Lovely; Blue Sway; Useless Metaphor; Peace.

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

Title: Ramshackle Serenade | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Pirouet Records

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