Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bernstein/Goldings/Stewart - Live at Smalls (Smalls Live, 2011)

Guitarist Peter Bernstein, organist Larry Goldings and drummer Bill Stewart have been playing together for many years, holding down a regular gig at the Smalls jazz club when their schedules allow. This is a nice example of their regular gig, beginning with “Chant” which shows the trio playing in a mellow laid back groove, with the organ bubbling and simmering like a thick stew. Drums and organ/guitar trade phrases and then Stewart takes over for a short drum solo before the group returns stretching out at length. “Molto Molto” adds a latin tint to a groove reminiscent to that which Grant Green and Larry Young would establish on some great Blue Note records of the 1960’s. The trio builds a deep subtle groove at a medium tempo, sounding professional but not slick or overly polished. “Everytime We Say Goodbye” slows things down to a languid ballad speed, afer a slow organ buildup, there is subtle ballad guitar over gentle brushes. Bernstein’s guitar leads spaciously before handing off to Goldings’ organ and Stewart’s cymbal beat accenting the loneliness of the song. The low tempo is continued on “Just a Thought,” with bursts of improvisation as the music grows slowly stronger building to a medium boil. The highlight of the performance is a performance of the classic Miles Davis standard “Milestones” beginning with science fiction/Sun Ra sounding organ effects, Bernstein takes the lead with a pithy statement of the familiar melody and builds upon it along with a strong fast organ led groove section. There is a spacious interlude for Stewart’s drums, developing a loud soft dynamic before a restatement of the melody and conclusion. This is a solid group, interacting and listening to each other closely, creating solid mainstream jazz through communicating and dialogue development. Live at Smalls - amazon.com

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