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Gil Goldstein: Under Rousseau’s Moon: Live at the Blue Note

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Under Rousseau’s Moon is Gil Goldstein’s first album as a leader in 15 years. He’s done a lot of arranging, orchestrating, producing and sideman gigs, but curiously he hadn’t led his own session in all that time. This Jan. 2006 live recording at the Blue Note shows he’s been storing away a lot of creativity since 1991.

What a group he assembled for this outing-percussionist Don Alias, electric bassist Richard Bona, trumpeter Randy Brecker, vibraphonist Mike Mainieri, saxophonist Chris Potter, and the Zebra Coast String Trio. Goldstein, of course, is a gifted pianist and accordionist who will get that latter instrument accepted in jazz or die trying. The record is a tribute to Gil Evans and Jaco Pastorius (four of the tunes are his), and is dedicated to Alias, who died last March.

Goldstein’s touch is felt immediately, first with the sweeping, orchestral overture of the Band’s “The Moon Struck One” and then with a dynamite arrangement of Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee” that treats the bebop standby to an exotic rhythm and unusual instrumentation. The arranger in Goldstein shines again on a grooving, convention-defying medley of Evans’ “Boplicity” and Brecker’s “Some Skunk Funk.” With mesmerizing solos, gorgeous ensemble interplay and ideas that weave seamlessly in and around one another, the album evokes a dreamlike state and feelings of nostalgia. Whether remaking a jazz classic or digging in with an elegant, French-café solo on the accordion, Goldstein aims for something fresh with each passing minute. Let’s just hope he doesn’t let another 15 years pass until his next album.