Like Barbara Dennerlein, Larry Goldings was among the few organists who, in the 1980s and '90s, refused to stick to a grits-and-gravy approach to the instrument. This isn't to say that Goldings has escaped Jimmy Smith's influence altogether or that he lacks funk, blues, and soul-jazz credentials -- one of his employers, after all, was Maceo Parker, who spent many years in James Brown's band. But Goldings hasn't ignored the post-bop challenges that Larry Young presented, and Young's influence can be felt on Moonbird. Joined by drummer Bill Stewart and the Grant Green-influenced guitarist Peter Bernstein, Goldings delivers a rewarding post-bop date that will hardly be mistaken for Smith-minded soul-jazz. Goldings originals like the congenial "Christine," the intriguing "Empty Oceans," and the cerebal "Xoloft" aren't innovative -- 35 years earlier, Young was playing post-bop on the Hammond B-3. But Goldings nonetheless comes across as his own man, and his refusal to be yet another Jimmy Smith clone is commendable. The Bostonian also deserves applause for successfully transforming Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" and Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" into improvisatory jazz -- at a time when too many jazzmen were content to play the same old Cole Porter and Irving Berlin songs time and time again, Goldings had enough imagination to find the jazz potential in pop/rock songs that more myopic improvisers were ignoring. Not quite a gem but definitely solid, Moonbird is a CD that post-bop fans will enjoy.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson