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December 2001

Aaron Goldberg
Unfolding
J Curve Records

There is no title track on Unfolding. Instead of choosing one cut from the album, someone chose a descriptive word about the session. What is unfolding here are the thoughts of pianist Aaron Goldberg. Based on his music, those thoughts are intellectual, but uncluttered-someone of impeccable taste. Annotator Ira Gitler had enough space to get into the mind of pianist Goldberg and include quotes about each track. It should come as no surprise that those thoughts evoke the dominant quality inherent in his playing: the poetic swing of Bill Evans.

The strength of Unfolding lies in Goldberg's variations: contrapuntal, introspective, harmonically rich solo intros. Goldberg possesses unlimited technique: clean runs, chordal clusters and nearly flawless unison statements, two or three octaves apart. A good example of the latter comes on a Latinized version of "You Are the Sunshine of My Life." Similar praise is due his colleagues: bassist Reuben Rogers often plays the tricky heads written by Goldberg in unison, as in "Sea Shantey" and provides a full arco behind "If and Only If"; drummer Eric Harland fills gaps with a military precision, or sometimes semihumorously, such as on "Isabella Meets Wally."

All three swing intensely on "MAO's Blues," but those 4/4, straightahead excursions are rare. They're heard in "Second Chance." Quite often Rogers and Harland provide an implied pulse, enhancing Goldberg's poetry.

Originally published in December 2001
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