|1 Boss Borden (Goold)
2 Paris Waltz (Bernstein)
3 Goooold (Goold)
4 Feeding Off the Host Part 1 (Goold)
5 I Never Knew (Fiorito/Kahn)
6 Lovely to Look At (Fields/Kern/McHugh)
7 March of the Malcontents (Goold)
8 Please (Rainger/Robin)
9 Make Believe (Kern/Hammerstein)
10 Sour and Ugly (Goold)
11 What is This Thing Called Love (Porter)
12 Thus This (Goold)
Producer: Luke Kaven
|Ned Goold (tenor
sax), Sacha Perry (piano), Ari Roland (tenor sax), Charles Goold (drums)
Once in a great while, jazz players combine to produce a brew potent enough to inspire a thirst that can’t be slaked by any substitute. Chemistry they call it, something more than the mereological sum of its parts. Some things you love to listen to, but some things you gotta hear. This group is one of the latter.
For years, Mitch Borden, boss of Smalls, has been offering early sets on weekend nights before the start of the main evening show. This is a slot for groups that Mitch wants people to hear more, and the steady stream of pedestrian traffic on a weekend night makes it relatively easy to pull in an audience. Setting himself up on West 10th Street, Mitch improvises a different hipster’s street-crier pitch for each group of passers-by, and snags them by ones and twos. The theme was the early bird gets the worm, in a time-honored allusion to Charlie Parker, where here everybody gets the play the part of the bird. The early Saturday sets used to belong to Frank Hewitt & company before Hewitt died, and often presented Hewitt’s chosen bunch – among them Zaid Nasser, Mike Mullins, William Ash, and Sacha Perry along with Ari Roland, and of course Jimmy Lovelace. The Ned Goold Quartet presented here is the latest in this lineage.
It is hard to think of anyone besides Ned Goold who has invested so much time and effort over more than twenty years into developing an original style. While there are certainly bebop influences, Ned’s use of unusual musical structures – really a whole system -- superimposed over a traditional context is actually more akin to Yusef Lateef on a deep level. Goold’s early collaborations with Ben Wolfe cite as an influence Lateef’s work on a Paul Chambers recording from 1960 entitled First Bassman (Vee-Jay VJS 3012). The name of a tune from that session, “Retrogress,” is a clue to that part of the musical story, referring presumably to harmonic retrogression, a kind of reverse chord movement that produces an effect something like that of falling upstairs. Ned would be quick to point out far ranging influences from Bach to Schoenberg to Bix Beiderbecke and Frank Trumbauer to Coleman Hawkins to Bird and Monk.
As interesting as Goold’s contributions in the way of music theory may be, the theoretical stuff was worked out by him long ago, and what you hear now is an artist who is fluent in his own language, and free to express whatever the situation calls for without any intellectual contrivance. At its heart, Goold’s music is about the ‘funk,’ not the “funk music” genre, but the idea of ‘funk’ as more the combination of musical genius and poetic force manifest in Louis Armstrong or Thelonious Monk.
This disk follows our previous Ned Goold recording on this label, The Flows (Smalls SRCD-0004), an under-marketed recording of remarkable brilliance. This was the definitive statement of Goold’s trio work, with tracks culled from recordings of forty-seven separate shows, each one of which was perfectly good on its own merits. The pianoless saxophone trio is a challenging format for many listeners with its implied and fragmented 2-part harmonies and lack of obvious cues, and I suspect many were unable to penetrate its surface (at least at first). The Ned Goold Quartet adds piano over his earlier work, thereby making his music more transparent, and his evident brilliance that much more undeniable. All the notes are out there to be heard, rather than some being merely implied. In the familiar setting you can really hear how imaginative Goold is in improvising over the chord changes of a standard without ever resorting to clichés. This style is all his, and it has virtues all of its own.
The Ned Goold Quartet is a combination of four great players to be sure, but somehow it goes beyond that. The dark-edged hardcore bop framework is set up in the rhythm section. Ned is not operating within the confines of any historical bop, but rather he is matching its rich complexity with his own musical structures, which is a really amazing achievement. The band is energized by Ned’s quirky sensibilities. Sacha Perry, who is a standard bearer when it comes to post-Frank Hewitt bop piano, gets into poetic orbit throughout this record, stretching out and exploring some new vistas, and accompanying Goold out towards the edges of the harmonic envelope. He’s getting a bounce from Neal Caine, who lays down sheets of melodious thunder on bass of the kind that first got him famous while he was playing with Elvin Jones. Caine and Goold have been playing together for years, working out their original moves while on the road with the Harry Connick Jr. Orchestra in which Ned is the music director and Neal is the bassist. Ned also appears on Caine’s debut release, Backstabber’s Ball (Smalls SRCD-0008), which garnered widespread critical raves as the harbinger of a new and satisfying jazz sound. And on drums, the bearer of the beat is Charles Goold, who makes his debut on record here. Charles has a natural feel for the jazz beat unlike anyone we’ve seen come along in quite a while. When he lays it down, everybody swings off it.
The swing on this date ranges from hot to cool, but always comes across with intensity. The hot swing on tunes like “Goooold” or “Thus This” is something most fans can relate to, but with original and exciting twists and turns. The cool swing on “What Is This Thing Called Love?” has the same intensity, but requires a change of gears--you have to take it at its own pace. This record is a good representation of the Saturday evening show, and if you’re like me, you’ll be consistently surprised at how much music this band can play.
As George C.Scott as Patton said to Omar Bradley in the movie, "I have a lot of faults Brad. But ingratitude isn't one of them." My own faults being fairly well known, of this I've also been rarely accused. In this spirit I'm dedicating this attempt to Mitchell Borden. The only person who ever thought enough of me to give me a regular gig. Long live Smalls and Mitch "Boss" Borden!
The producer would like to thank Debbie Millman, Jeff Brown, Tom Currier, Marcy Granata, and Yutaka Matsumoto for their gracious assistance, without which these productions would not be possible.
Artist web site: www.nedgoold.com