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Overdue Ovation: Ben Goldberg

The clarinetist and composer enters his seventh decade in typically eclectic style

Ben Goldberg
Ben Goldberg (photo: Adam Goldberg)

As his 60th birthday approached in August, clarinetist/composer Ben Goldberg briefly considered mounting a retrospective series of his many past ensembles. With the wealth of projects he’s assembled and recorded since his debut with the New Klezmer Trio in 1991, Goldberg could have easily booked his weeklong stint at the Stone at the New School a few times over. A quick career survey spans the warped bebop of Junk Genius; the lush sextet Twelve Minor; the clarinet quartet Clarinet Thing; the genre-defying ensemble Tin Hat; and any number of collaborations with the likes of Nels Cline, Myra Melford, Kenny Wollesen, Trevor Dunn, and Marty Ehrlich.

But in the end, as he so often does, Goldberg veered off in a different direction. His rationale? “I thought if I have to turn 60, I’d rather take the opportunity to try some new, weird stuff and look forward.”

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Shaun Brady

Shaun Brady is a Philadelphia-based journalist who covers jazz along with an eclectic array of arts, culture, and travel. Brady contributes regularly to the Philadelphia Inquirer and JazzTimes and Jazziz magazines, with subjects ranging from legendary artists to underground experimentalists. His byline has appeared in DownBeat, Metro, NPR Music, and The A.V. Club, among other outlets. He studied filmmaking at Columbia College Chicago and continues to spend too much time in the dark.