Sunday, July 07, 2013

Ben Goldberg - Unfold Ordinary Mind (BAG, 2013)

Released at the same time as the Particle album, this one is even better, with an excellent cast that includes Ben Goldberg on clarinets, Ellery Eskelin and Rob Sudduth on tenor saxophone and Ches Smith on drums. "Elliptical" opens the album by building up slowly over time before cutting Nels Cline loose for a stinging guitar solo, which he then uses to lead the full group into excellent uptempo improvisation. A circular saxophone pattern brings the full band into deep conversation on "Parallelogram" and after about 2 1/2 minutes they develop a slinky swing pattern where ripe sounding tenor saxophones intertwine. Snaking electric guitar is framed by riffing after which a nice collective improv develops, moving the music back to the original melody. "XCGF" has a clarinet solo opening before the full band enters at mid-tempo. The build in a slow, almost luxurious feel with the twin saxes again creating texture and Nels Cline developing processed guitar which moves through the looking glass adding further adornment. "Lone" begins with twin saxophones melding in space sounding melancholy and careful with a little added guitar for spice. The group hits harder on "I Miss the SLA" building a strong opening of saxophones and powerful drums. Gnarly and angular, Cline tosses thunderbolts of electric guitar which scour the landscape and complex horn and drums scramble to respond. "Stemwinder" may be the highlight of this very good album. Horns meld and harmonize while guitar and drums kick in bringing some funk elements into play. There is a nice confident guitar solo making way for hearty tenor saxophone. Goldberg asserts his authority with an open and hollow clarinet soloing deftly over the band, moving into a wonderful collective improvisation. Things develop into a wild ride toward the end making for a fine conclusion. Unfold Ordinary Mind - amazon.com

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