Monday, March 16, 2015

Mailing delay may have turned Aaron Goldberg's new CD 'The Now' into 'The Tomorrow', but pianist's trio whetted the appetite for it with one Jazz Kitchen set

The Jazz Kitchen's new policy of opening on Sunday for one evening set has boosted the 21-year-old club's ability to schedule  both local and national acts.

Touring behind his new disc, lack of available product didn't faze Aaron Goldberg
On March 15, the Aaron Goldberg Trio was on hand to exhibit its skills mainly on material from the pianist's new CD, 'The Now.' The discs weren't on hand due to a possible miscommunication — which syllable of "overnight" doesn't the post office understand? — but a sizable audience got treated to a vigorously rendered sample.

It may not have mattered to those who were particularly taken with the pianist's sidemen here — bassist Matt Penland and drummer Obed Calvaire— insofar as those two players aren't represented on the Sunnyside CD. But the quality of this trio suggested that it doesn't occupy an inferior position to the CD's personnel: Goldberg, Reuben Rogers, and Eric Harland.

The arrangements were skillful and often surprising. Goldberg has his own version of what has come to be favored among jazz piano trios — a true three-way collaboration. Sometimes the main melodic statements were divided between bass and piano, as on the first tune, a Brazilian love lament titled "Trocando em Miudos," which opened the set. As essential and imaginative as Calvaire's contributions were to this piece and the next, Charlie Parker's "Perhaps," I began to worry that the drums were too loud except when the bass was playing.

The mix improved considerably on the third tune (the piano was brought up) — an infectious Haitian number called "Yoyo." Calvaire put his Haitian heritage to work creatively here. Both he and Goldberg were very comfortable maintaining cross-rhythmic poise in their solos.

A reflective original, Goldberg's "The Wind in the Night," displayed a style in ballads the pianist was also able to adapt to faster music. He folds in decorative figures that are always to the point. On Sunday, I  never got the idea he was decorating a line just to provide filler. And throughout the set, Goldberg had an unusually advanced ability to keep his hands independent. His rhythmic acuity clearly inspired Penman and Calvaire.

A moderately paced, calypso-flavored song (not identified from the stage) gave Penman a particularly expansive showcase, starting with a long solo cadenza. In terms of accuracy, fresh ideas and nimble fingerwork, I would place Penman in this performance right up there on his instrument with the wizardly Christian McBride.

The set closed with the fastest "All of Me" I've ever heard. The tempo seemed to hold no terrors for anyone at any point along the way. The rendition was crowned by an exciting phenomenon I might call – in honor of Comic Con, which concluded in town Sunday — the Incredible Shrinking Exchange Pattern. That entailed progressively shorter alternations of percussion and piano soloing that charged right up into a brief statement of the song's final phrases.

By that time, the current Aaron Goldberg Trio had given its all. To paraphrase the song, we took the part that once was its heart, thanks to the trio's generosity. But I bet the gentlemen had plenty of heart left. It doesn't seem to be a quality they are in much danger of running out of.