280

Ben Goldberg Quintet: The Door, The Hat, The Chair, The Fact

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Ben Goldberg Quintet: The Door, The Hat, The Chair, The Fact He's been active for fifteen years, but unless you know the New Klezmer Trio or have followed the Bay Area scene, chances are you haven't heard of clarinetist Ben Goldberg. Despite appearing on records by Charlie Hunter, Tin Hat Trio and John Zorn, in addition to half a dozen albums released under his own name, he's never managed to grab significant attention, despite the relatively light competition in the jazz clarinet arena. So hopefully The Door, The Hat, The Chair, The Fact, his first release in seven years and his debut on the intrepid left coast Cryptogramophone label, will push him closer to the limelight.

Goldberg's quintet features Tin Hat Trio's violinist/vocalist Carla Kihelstedt, saxophonist Rob Sudduth, Nels Cline Singers bassist Devin Hoff and drummer Ches Smith. His material manages to combine elements of new music and an occasionally surprising sense of swing, sitting somewhere between the work of fellow clarinetists Don Byron and Louis Sclavis. But while Sclavis tends towards a busier, more aggressive form of freedom, even in his idiosyncratic writing, Goldberg is equally concerned with the space between notes.

The surprisingly natural alternating 5/4 and 6/4 groove of "Long Last Moment" is a dark and mysterious place where Goldberg, Kihlstedt and Sudduth solo concurrently but never seem to get in each others' way. The insistent swing of "Song and Dance," on the other hand, is closer to Byron's cerebral writing, with closer ties to conventional jazz tradition, revealing lessons learned by Goldberg when he studied with Steve Lacy and Joe Lovano.

Steve Lacy's "Blinks" gets an even more open-ended treatment than the version recorded by Sclavis and trumpeter Dave Douglas on Bow River Falls (Premonition, 2004). Smith and Hoff in particular are both remarkable free players, but their ears are always open to what's around them. In a 2004 interview with Nels Cline, the guitarist commented that "Ches and Devin are like the rhythm section in the Bay Area, they're everywhere now," and for good reason—even when the context is essentially free, they move with remarkable synchronicity. And when a groove is called for, as on the persistent pulse of the angular "I Before E Before I," Hoff and Smith prove a potent pair.

A forum for the quintet's liberated mindset, The Door is also a vehicle for Goldberg's more detailed composition. Despite the brevity of "Petals," its cued lines—with Goldberg, Kihlstedt and Sudduth snaking in and around both dissonance and consonance—are clever and evocative. Two versions of Goldberg's "Facts," one with Kihlstedt singing lyrics by Steve Lacy, the other featuring the gentle but obscure theme on violin, are stark and bleak, yet strangely beautiful.

While there are inevitable comparisons to be made, Goldberg's compelling eclecticism ultimately puts him on equal footing with both Sclavis and Byron. He may not have the cachet yet, but this new release should help improve his visibility... as will his participation on Nels Cline's Tribute to Andrew Hill, due out later this year.


Track Listing: Petals; Song and Dance; Long Last Moment; F13; Facts; Blinks; I Before E Before I; Learned from Susan Stewart; MF; Facts; Dog's Life; Lone; Cortege.

Personnel: Ben Goldberg: clarinet; Carla Kihlstedt: violin, voice; Rob Sudduth: tenor saxophone; Devin Hoff: bass; Ches Smith: drums.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Cryptogramophone | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Ornette Coleman Ornette Coleman
sax, alto
John Zorn John Zorn
sax, alto
Dave Douglas Dave Douglas
trumpet
Nels Cline Nels Cline
guitar, electric
Marc Ribot Marc Ribot
guitar
Herb Robertson Herb Robertson
trumpet
Ken Vandermark Ken Vandermark
saxophone
Uri Caine Uri Caine
piano
Don Byron Don Byron
clarinet
Drew Gress Drew Gress
bass
Chris Speed Chris Speed
saxophone

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Touch My Beloved's Thought" CD/LP/Track Review Touch My Beloved's Thought
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 7, 2016
Read "Bring Their ‘A’ Game" CD/LP/Track Review Bring Their ‘A’ Game
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 17, 2016
Read "Before The Silence" CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Music From Max Fleischer Cartoons" CD/LP/Track Review Music From Max Fleischer Cartoons
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 14, 2016
Read "Romance 76" CD/LP/Track Review Romance 76
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 11, 2016
Read "Blues, Preludes and Feuds" CD/LP/Track Review Blues, Preludes and Feuds
by Geannine Reid
Published: November 22, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!