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Larry Goldings Trio, Moonbird (CD, 54:54); Palmetto PM 2045, 1999
Palmetto Records
71 Washington Pl. #1A
New York, NY 10011
Phone: 1800-PALM-CDS
Cyberhome: www.palmetto-records.com

        One of the most consistently satisfying straightahead jazz outfits, 
the Larry Goldings Trio joins the Palmetto Records roster with the 
fine Moonbird. Goldings has made his mark on the Hammond organ 
as a sideman with the likes of John Scofield, Jim Hall, Chris Potter, 
and Maceo Parker. His long-standing trio, with Peter Bernstein on 
guitar and Bill Stewart on drums, can be seen and heard nearly every 
week at Small's in New York. Moonbird is representative of the 
group's intimate-yet-fiery live sound. It's some of Goldings's 
strongest and most focused work to date.
	The disc features a variety of feels and moods, from the 
bayou rhythm of "Crawdaddy" to the contemplative dissonance of "Empty 
Oceans." Three midtempo numbers, "Moonbird," "Christine," and 
"Comfort Zone," come closest to what I would call this trio's 
signature sound-a breezy and lyrical yet aggressive swing. Listen as 
Bernstein attacks the melody at the bridge on the lovely title track. 
This is a pure and sublime hardbop moment, and the trio knows just 
how to milk it for all it's worth. "Xoloft" is another hardbop 
highlight with a quicker tempo. Bernstein is riveting as he darts 
from high to low register yet never loses sight of the next perfect 
phrase. And Stewart's unaccompanied solo is characteristically shrewd.
	Two pop covers appear. I've never been a fan of the pop/rock 
cover trend in jazz, and Goldings has certainly shown lapses in this 
regard in the past-take the Sanborn-scarred "Boogie On Reggae Woman" 
from his 1995 Warner Brothers release Whatever It Takes. Here, 
however, his reading of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" as a slow 
straight-eighth jam genuinely works, as does his gospel-tinged 
rendering of Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going to Rain Today."
	The record closes with a hidden track-a reprise of "Empty 
Oceans," but this time with Goldings extemporizing beautifully over 
the theme on acoustic piano. Perhaps because we're used to the thick, 
heavy sound of the organ, Goldings's piano playing sounds uncommonly 
fluid and free. A pretty end to an exceptionally pretty album.
~David R. Adler

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