Ben Goldberg

The Relative Value of Things

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This is a gorgeous little date between two of the modern jazz scene's most singing and adaptable personages. Here is a program of gently swinging originals and jazz nuggets that offer a startling view of all the tonal possibilities offered by such a stripped down pairing. Most notable are the Monk tunes, which lend themselves to almost any instrumental configuration but are seldom played correctly. Here, "Light Blue" and "Children's Song" are given the royal harmonic-bending treatment by creating Monk's rhythmic bass in the kit and his melodic and harmonic invention in Goldberg's single lines of shifting rhythmic length and texture. Goldberg's use of Monk's deceptively simple lyric line is anchored in a near contrapuntal harmonic one, so that as one element of the tune articulates itself, another complements and eventually undoes it to the point of extension. Meanwhile, Wollesen focuses on the syncopated accents and draws them out with small flourishes on the cymbals and snare fills to keep them anchored in time. Also groovy is the duo's reading of Dizzy Gillespie's "Salt Peanuts." What's amazing here is that Goldberg takes the original melody, without changing a note, only it's key and time signature, and makes it a near klezmer tune. The wild thing is that nothing sounds rushed or forced; it comes flying out of his clarinet like an old dance tune dusted off and put to use by the jazzers. Wollesen here has a running left hand tapping out the ride cymbal while using the other to syncopate the snare with a tom tom flare up once in a while. Amazing.

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