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Album Review

This disc documents a quick 'n' dirty piano trio session recorded by Aaron Goldberg and two longtime friends and collaborators — bassist Omer Avital and drummer Ali Jackson Jr. — in late December 2009. These three young players have known one another for years, watched each other come up on the New York scene, and played together from time to time. They share a musical philosophy, blending melody with blues and swing in an old-school but not self-consciously retro fashion, and work extremely well together. The repertoire on the disc is a mix of interpretations of tunes — by Abdullah Ibrahim, Duke Ellington, Mercer Ellington, and Thelonious Monk, among others — and originals by Avital and Jackson. Goldberg's playing is a little too smooth and deft for the Monk tune; he loses the elbows-on-the-keys feel that's required to give the melody any real kick, and it winds up feeling somewhat restaurant-piano-player-ish. But on the Ellington tunes and the originals, he's really in his element; his sound falls somewhere between Ahmad Jamal and Red Garland or Wynton Kelly, a player capable of swinging and getting into the blues without ever becoming florid or overwrought. Avital and Jackson are a more than capable rhythm team, driving the music at least as much and as often as the pianist. There's nothing even remotely revelatory here, but the players' unwillingness to color outside the lines actually feels like a virtue for most of the disc's running time.


Born: 1974 in Boston, MA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Pianist and composer Aaron Goldberg is an adept jazz musician, blessed with a harmonically advanced aesthetic palette and a bent toward thoughtful modern creative improvisation. Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1974, Goldberg started playing piano around age 12 and gained early experience studying in high school with such luminaries as Bob Sinicrope and Jerry Bergonzi. Initially, Goldberg studied at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music before enrolling at Harvard, where he graduated magna...
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Yes!, Aaron Goldberg
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