The Door, the Hat, the Chair, the Fact
Berkeley-based clarinetist Ben Goldberg honors the late Steve Lacy on this stark and mysterious recording, named after a line in a Robert Creeley poem. Goldberg’s quintet—part chamber ensemble, part out-jazz band—features fellow Tin Hatter Carla Kihlstedt on violin, Rob Sudduth on tenor sax, Devin Hoff on bass and Ches Smith on drums. The severe atonality of Goldberg’s writing contrasts beautifully with the soothing timbre of his instrument, not to mention the sonorous three-part textures he crafts for himself and his frontline partners. In the interplay between Goldberg and Kihlstedt, one might hear traces of Don Byron and Mark Feldman.
The program is ideally paced, with brief sketches interspersed among longer works, adding up to an easily digestible hour. “Blinks” is the only Lacy composition included (aside from the Lacy-penned lyric on “Facts”), but Goldberg summons his mentor’s gnomic spirit with the free-boppish “Song and Dance” and the off-center grooves of “Long Last Moment” and “I Before E Before I.” The band is particularly tight on the haunting rubato landscapes of “Petals,” “F13” (cowritten with Kihlstedt) and a second, instrumental version of “Facts.” Sudduth steps forward on “Dog’s Life” and a balladic hidden track.