Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Masterful Clarinet of Ben Goldberg

Depending on how you count, Ben Goldberg has just come out with his third or fourth CD for Tzadik, "Speech Communication," and it's a good one. He is one hell of a clarinet player and he is joined on this trio outing by the sympathetic accompanists Greg Cohen (bass) and Kenny Wollesen (drums).

Ben has absorbed improvisational clarinet stylists from the Klezmer greats through Perry Robinson and forged anew a personal style. He has remarkable control over his sound and plays some really intriguing music.

Master of the standard clarinet, he also plays some really notable contra alto clarinet (which is similar to the bass clarinet, only even deeper in range). His music combines Jewish influences with modern postbop jazz strains. Goldberg has internalized and re-melded all of this so that it is seamlessly coherent. It's a CD that should establish him in the top ranks of clarinetists working today, if he hasn't already done that. Can you tell I liked "Speech Communication?"

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