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Larry Goldings/Peter Bernstein/Bill Stewart: Ramshackle Serenade

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Organist Larry Goldings, guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Bill Stewart have worked as a first-rate trio for over two decades. Their band is that rare unit in which each player, while being an excellent soloist, is equally influential in shaping a performance’s direction.

Both the opening selection, “Roach,” and mellow number “Mr. Meagles” (two Goldings works; Bernstein also contributes a pair of originals) accent the threesome’s ability to craft impressive statements while simultaneously executing clever shifts, twists and turns. The title selection features intriguing rhythmic interplay, as does Stewart’s “Blue Sway,” the longest number at nearly nine minutes.

Goldings is an inventive, delightful organist, able to deliver beautiful melodies and enticing grooves, while Bernstein plays with disciplined fervor and Stewart ably delivers alternately soothing or explosive rhythms and textures. Gus Arnheim’s “Sweet and Lovely” moves into hotter groove territory, while covers of Jobim’s “Luiza” and Horace Silver’s “Peace” (the finale) reveal the band’s knack for reinventing familiar fare with taste. Though it’s not the percolating soul-jazz workout some organ-combo fans might prefer, Ramshackle Serenade has plenty of flamboyance and blues fervor, and is another memorable outing from one of current jazz’s finest small groups.

Originally Published