Upon listening to Stu Goldberg’s latest release, Going Home on the Rhombus Records label, it certainly doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or a university music professor, for that matter) to surmise that Goldberg is a veteran of writing music for motion pictures and television. The seven Goldberg originals that comprise Going Home certainly have a flavor of music that could function very easily in that capacity. It is also evident from Goldberg’s skills as a pianist, and his jazz playing, that he draws upon his experiences from having been a veteran of working with many great jazz musicians/bandleaders. Going Home is a very enjoyable recording, and would be a most welcome addition to those who enjoy well-crafted music.
The introduction to the opening selection on the CD, "Montreal", resembles classical chamber music with Kenny Goldberg’s (Stu’s brother) beautiful flute tone and Jeff Falkner’s arco bass. The sound is reminiscent of the work of flautist Tim Weisberg or the classically influenced group Free Flight. After the introduction, tempo picks up into a Samba inspired sound that then melds into bassist Falkner vamping to set the foundation for a piano solo that reminds one of the piano style of Chick Corea. After vamping, the soloing cuts loose into a driving swinging section. Following Goldberg’s piano solo the piece segues back to the head. After a brief stop time break, a very swinging flute solo follows, backed by Falkner’s walking bass, drummer Dave Renick’s compelling rhythmic drive and solid comping on the piano. After another revisit to the head of the tune, the piece winds down to end in a manner similar to the way it began.
"The Core of the Apple" the second selection on the CD is a BURNING modern jazz romp with interesting twists in the melodic line sandwiched between sections of hard driving swing. Kenny Goldberg opts for the tenor saxophone on this one, and demonstrates more than cursory familiarity with other modern saxophonists, while adding a number of creative statements of his own. Likewise brother Stu demonstrates an ability to swing hard while cutting up the keyboard. Not to be ignored, drummer Renick also reveals very competent chops and gets in some great solo licks as well.
I don’t know who Yvonne is (other than perhaps the person who did the artwork used on the CD cover art), but she certainly has inspired beauty as evidenced in the third selection on the CD entitled "Yvonne". The piece is very much a sentimentally romantic type ballad this time with Kenny Goldberg on soprano saxophone. The sound of "Yvonne" is somewhat similar to the music of that other Kenny G., and serves as a reminder that music doesn’t always have to sacrifice being delightfully pretty to be musically viable or profound.
"Baiao" the fourth piece on the CD is a fun sounding Latin inspired tour de force, again featuring the flute and piano of the Goldberg brothers.
In contrast to the frivolity of the previous piece, and taking a somewhat more serious tone is "Spirals". The work opens with Goldberg’s solo piano playing a repetitive melodic line in the left hand, embellished with decorative figures played in the right. The repetitive line grows into a rhythmic accompaniment to Jeff Falkner’s line played on bowed bass. Drummer Dave Renick adds more and more complexity to the rhythmic texture as the piece moves into an intricate pizzicato solo by Falkner. The piano solo that follows has an ethereal almost transparent quality to it initially, and then builds in intensity and textural density. Throughout, the accompaniment figures in the bass and drums provide an appropriate subtext to pianist Goldberg’s improvised inventions.
The seriousness of tone continues with the medley "Daybreak/Sunbeam". The sixth piece of the CD opens in a typical slow ballad style featuring the tenor of Kenny Goldberg on the tune’s head. The tenor melody is accompanied by harp like embellishments on the piano and solid backing by the bass and drums. After the tenor feature, the piano changes the mood considerably, moving the piece along into a much more up-tempo feel. After a number of short unison sections played by the piano and sax, Goldberg’s tenor breaks out with an aggressively swinging solo. Pianist Goldberg follows, and again demonstrates his great jazz chops as he stretches his improvisatory muscles. A segment of trading licks by the drums, sax and piano creates some very exciting moments as the intensity builds to a recapitulation of the tune’s head and conclusion to the piece.
The CD’s concluding and signature composition is "Going Home". This completely solo piano work resembles the playing of Keith Jarrett’s (his 1976 Staircase album comes to mind) and would also be a delight to fans of New Age pianist George Winston or others of that similar ilk. Goldberg’s playing is rife with straightforward melodicism and sustained piano effects that outline a satisfying harmonic backdrop. The rather melancholy, sentimental sound of this piece, contributes to it being an excellent coda to a very enjoyable collection of tunes interpreted and created by some first rate improvisation and musicianship.