Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Bernstein, Goldings, Stewart - NYC Jazz Record

Bernstein, Goldings, Stewart - Live at Smalls

For guitarist Peter Bernstein’s second release on
smallsLIVE, he ropes in his old bandmates, organist
Larry Goldings and drummer Bill Stewart, for a classic
organ trio set. Recorded in January 2011 in the tight
basement club (how did they get that B3 down there?)
the band is in fine form, swinging through a grab bag
of standards and a couple of originals.

The album opens with the laidback Duke Pearson
standard “Chant”. Bernstein spirals out of the gate,
drawing quivering vibratos from his guitar while
Goldings finds a deliberate pace and stretches out
nicely. The Cole Porter ballad “Everytime We Say
Goodbye” opens with humming B3 serving up a quiet
mass while Bernstein, with limited frills, takes on the
melody. With no particular urgency the guitarist works
his way in and out of the extended song form, placing
tasteful phrases over Stewart’s subtle brushes.
Goldings is equally controlled, building slightly louder
before stepping back for Bernstein’s melodic return.

The bandleader’s original “Just a Thought” raises the
pulse with a harder swinging approach that features
the guitarist letting loose over Goldings’ syncopated
punch. The Miles classic “Milestones” opens with
interstellar meandering by Goldings that summons
both the ghost of Sputnik and an 8-bit video game
before launching into a hard-driving, 12-minute chase.
Bernstein and Goldings both take frenetic solos
peppered with pinpoint phrasing before making way
for Stewart, who begins his solo by winding down the
band to a crawl before slowly splashing his way across
the kit, artfully drawing the band back with a
percussive approach to the theme. The band rides out
on snippets of the melody, briefly changing key as
Bernstein sputters to a close over driving cymbals. The
album ends with the obscure Percy Mayfield blues
“The Danger Zone”. Bernstein bends his way through
the crawling melody before stretching out in his solo.
Goldings jumps with an equally slow pace, extracting
intensity from his drawbars.

For fans of classic organ trios (Jimmy Smith/
Kenny Burrell, Mel Rhyne/Wes Montgomery) this
album is a perfect throwback. The repertoire and style
is firmly rooted in classic ‘60s soul and the band is in
top form, playing to a full but unobtrusive crowd, just
what one might hope for from three masters of the
genre spending a weekend in a New York basement.

Bernstein, Goldings, Stewart @ NYC Jazz Record

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