Label: Sunnyside Records
Personnel - Aaron Goldberg: piano; Matt Penman: acoustic bass; Leon Parker: drums, percussive vocals, EmbodiRhythm.
American pianist/composer Aaron Goldberg justified the attention given by the jazz community in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s both as a leader and sideman of artists like Joshua Redman, Guillermo Klein, John Ellis, Jimmy Greene, and Omer Avital (a co-leading partner in the OAM Trio). Three years ago, The Now came out on the Sunnyside Records, in which he was featured in a trio with Reuben Rogers on bass and Eric Harland on drums. Now, for his sixth album as a leader At The Edge of the World, Goldberg remains faithful to the trio formation but changes the pieces, having bassist Matt Penman teaming up with drummer Leon Parker, two colorists assigned to renew the songs' undermost layers. The band takes on five covers drawn from multiple stylistic sources and a pair of Goldberg originals, while the pianist completes the song lineup with a pensive solo interpretation of “En La Orilla Del Mundo”, a composition by Cuban guitarist Martín Rojas, which here sounds like one of Michel Legrand’s laments.
“Luaty” and “Tokyo Dream” are products of Goldberg’s compositional efforts. The former, a special dedication to Angolan political activist and rapper Luaty Beirão, waltzes with uncomplicated elegance, whereas the latter pumps in the fragrances of the blues.
Whatever the mood, style, or tempo, the trio sounds pretty solid. “Poinciana”, for instance, is a breezy, neat re-imagination of the Cuban folk-influenced tune popularized by pianist Ahmad Jamal. Goldberg’s delicacy of touch and clarity of speech obtain even more expression with Parker’s stunning percussive methods, which include voice and body techniques (EmbodiRhythm). The drummer’s rhythmic vocalization also comes to the forefront when the trio slides into smooth Brazilian territory with Luiz Bonfa’s “Manhã de Carnaval”, the main theme of Marcel Camus’ romantic tragedy Black Orpheus. Guillermo Klein’s arrangement for this song (from their conjoint album Bienestan) was transformed and adapted to fit the trio setting.
They incur in post-bop gems with supple textures, achieving the desired tri-directional reciprocity with McCoy Tyner’s “Effendi”, a steamer that, without losing its original vibrancy, spotlights the drummer trading eights with the band; and two Bobby Hutcherson numbers: “Isn’t This My Sound Around Me”, which ends up swinging aplomb with Penman and Parker in the pocket after proposing a modal approach, and the ballad “When You Are Near”, launched by Penman and displaying a melody that reminded me of Toquinho & Vinicius’ “Samba em Preludio”.
This is a likable recording from a cohesive piano trio whose irresistible sound will make you revisit the album over and over again.
01 - Poinciana ► 04 - When You Are Near ► 05 - Effendi