Ben Goldberg

Unfold Ordinary Mind

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    9
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For Unfold Ordinary Mind, Bay area clarinetist Ben Goldberg has put together an interesting group. Twin tenors Ellery Eskelin and Rob Sudduth join Nels Cline on guitar and Ches Smith on drums while Goldberg's contra-alto clarinet covers most of the bass duty. These are well-written tunes with nice ensemble horn work to state the melodies, and when it's solo time, they operate together brilliantly. Eskelin and Sudduth have been active in all sorts of projects in New York and San Fransisco respectively for decades. Ches Smith can kill it with a groove, react intuitively, or take it to outer space (there's a reason he's such an in-demand player). Nels Cline is, well, he's Nels Cline, one of the most creative and original electric guitar players in modern music. But it's Goldberg's writing that makes this album more than the sum of its parts. The horns are soulful, the grooves are solid, and Nels adds just the right counterpoint even when he's getting crazy, and everyone gets some nice solo space. The group dynamic is more like a funk/soul band, although no one would call this a funk or soul album. It may be a slightly unorthodox lineup, but Unfold Ordinary Mind is a real winner.

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