Friday 21 November 2014

Late night pizza - Aaron Goldberg at the London Jazz Festival

The Aaron Goldberg Trio played Soho's Pizza Express late last night as part of the London Jazz Festival. Not only was it an excellent set, it was also free, although as Mr Goldberg pointed out you still had to pay for the pizza!

This extremely tight trio played for just over an hour, taking us through several tracks from the new album - The Now- as well as a couple of older numbers from earlier recordings. The set opened with Trocando Em Miudos, a Chico Buarque composition. The Portuguese is difficult to translate but the story behind the song is one of a separation, a divided home and leaving with only regret. A downbeat start in terms of subject matter but an excellent introduction to the evening musically speaking.

This was followed by a very playful version of Charlie Parker's Perhaps which not only showcased Goldberg's undoubted skills but also those of rising bass star Joe Sanders. Sanders previously played bass for the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and has played with Ravi Coltrane, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter amongst others. Totally engaged with his instrument including "singing" to it off mic, we were treated to some unexpected vocal work from him too. Mr G also referred to him as his fashion advisor and tonight he was resplendent in a blue v-necked elbow padded sweater, white shirt, tie and wool peaked cap. Nice.

Other tracks from the new album included The Wind in the Night and YoYo. The Wind in the Night is a laid back ballad and Goldberg's own composition. Nice brush work from drummer and long time collaborator Eric Harland on this one. Harland is another stellar player and has worked with Betty Carter, Wynton Marsalis and Terence Blanchard amongst others. I especially liked YoYo which is based on a Haitian folk song about a generous meat vendor who gives extra meat to his customers! It featured a latin/ oriental flavoured piano and a cheeky conversation between bass and drums. Those latin/ oriental flavours brought to mind other favourite jazz pianists of mine - the wonderful Omer Klein and Omri Mor as well as a hint of Maurice El Medioni! Just great and the audience loved it. Incidentally this was a much younger crowd than the regular Pizza Express/ Ronnie Scott's turnout - in part because of the free entry as Soho jazz venues ain't cheap - but good to see and hope for the future!

One of my favourites from the earlier Worlds album, Lambada de Serpente (featured in the clip above) got a good long workout later in the set, its slow start building and building into an optimistic latin influenced piece of happiness with all three musicians shining. Continuing the latin kick, we were treated to a thumping version of Manha de Carnaval (also known as Black Orpheus), the much recorded Luiz Bonfa/ Antonio Maria penned classic and one of the best received pieces of the evening. Background Music from the new album is a musical sprint played at breakneck speed with some great work on bass and if you closed your eyes you could have been in a smokey 1960's New York jazz club listening to Bill Evans and his team.

It was all over too soon but the trio were persuaded back to the stage for a nice long version of Stevie Wonder's Isn't She Lovely from the Home album with some interesting cutting short of sentences in the main melody. And that was it - out into the cold cold Soho November night. Another great evening at Pizza Express Jazz - and the music was for free!

Oh, and I bought the new album. It's very good.

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