In many cases, talented jazz organists also know their way around the acoustic piano. The late Shirley Scott, for example, was both an accomplished pianist and accomplished organist, although she was best known for her organ playing -- and many of the organists who never made a piano recording were probably quite capable of doing so. But never recording on the piano is not a problem for Larry Goldings, who is primarily an organist but plays more acoustic piano than organ on Quartet. Goldings (who is joined by trumpeter/cornetist John Sneider, acoustic bassist Ben Allison, and drummer Matt Wilson) also gets in some accordion, electric keyboards, and harmonium, but the acoustic piano is dominant this time -- and whatever instrument Goldings is embracing, no one will accuse this post-bop effort of having a surplus of warhorses. In the 21st century, there are way too many straight-ahead jazz artists (both instrumentalists and vocalists) who insist on playing nothing but the most overdone warhorses on their albums -- artists who won't touch a song unless it has been recorded as many times as "My Funny Valentine" or "Body and Soul." But on Quartet, Goldings and his colleagues find the post-bop potential in everything from Chico Buarque's "Valsinha" (a Brazilian song) to W.C. Handy's "Hesitation Blues" to the traditional "We Shall Overcome." Goldings even finds the jazz possibilities of Björk's "Cocoon," and why shouldn't he? Contrary to what some of the more myopic folks in the jazz world would have you believe, worthwhile popular music didn't end with Tin Pan Alley. From Goldings' skillful piano playing to his intriguing variety of material, Quartet is a CD that the improviser should be proud to have in his catalog.
by Alex Henderson