Friday, July 8, 2011

Solo Setting + Program Alert

If it's a sunny day, raise the blinds, open the window and turn up the speakers. On a cloudy day or late at night, keep the volume level lower but sit back and join pianist Larry Goldings. He's invited listeners to join him "In My Room" (BFM Jazz) and, yes, it's a personal journey but should ring true for many people.  If you've listened to music all your life, chances are good that the tunes blasting out of your AM radio when you were 13 (or FM radio at 18) still reverberate with you. It's why "oldies revues" are so popular, they remind so many of us of simpler times.

Larry Goldings mixes old standards with "pop" tunes from the 60s and 70s plus a few originals on this recording.  It may be a jaunt down "Memory Lane" but this no attempt to cash in on a trend - it's just good music lovingly played and recorded. The title track is the Brian Wilson ballad and Golding's really captures the innocence and longing in the song.  Elsewhere, he does a sweet job on both "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and "Beautiful Dreamer". There's also a fairly straight-forward take on The Zombies' "A Rose For Emily" while Golding does a sweet job of finding the emotional heart of Joni Mitchell's "All I Want." The pianist, who has never had an issue about mixing musical styles, digs into Abdullah Ibrahim's "The Wedding" - his left hand takes on a more formal role than in the South African piano master's version, adding wonderful colors to the folkish melody.

Of the originals, "Crawdaddy" is a lilting tribute to New Orleans, with touches of both Allen Toussaint and Scott Joplin while "Roach" is dedicated to drummer Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln. The latter track references the duo's version of "Driva Man" from "We Insist: The Freedom Now Suite", doing so with drama, force and emotional strength.

One can (and, I believe it's Larry Golding's design) look at this recording as a journey of the pianist's musical discoveries. Starting in his room and going "Here, There, and Everywhere" (the Lennon-McCartney song that ends the CD) in the course of 16 tracks, there's so much variety here yet the program never wavers from its mission of melodic explorations.  A "Romantic" conceit perhaps but done so honestly that the results are quite satisfying.  For more information, go to

Having seen (and chatted with) the Heath Brothers Band live in Chicago last year made me happy they would grace The Village Vanguard this week with their presence.  Saxophonist Jimmy and younger brother and drummer "Tootie" (Albert to some) have been "on the road" for almost 4 decades while continuing their separate careers as leaders and sideman (bassist brother Percy passed in 2005 but the band plays on. WBGO-FM was in attendance on the first night of the quartet's stay (bassist David Wong and pianist Jeb Patton round out the HBB) and you can hear the opening set of Wednesday July 6 by go to  

True, it's more fun to seen and hear them live but the folks at WBGO-FM do a fine job of making one feel part of the crowd in attendance. Dig that crazy boater on the always fashionable "Tootie" - he really should take part in a fashion show with fellow drummer and snappy dresser Roy Haynes!

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