WBGO Radar

Aaron Goldberg: "The Now"

pianist aaron goldberg

For pianist Aaron Goldberg, The Now is a most precious thing. It’s a reason to live, and the reason he plays.

“We talk about staying in the moment, and sometimes we do,” Goldberg says. “But what’s wonderful about jazz is we HAVE to achieve that, in order to play.”

“Jazz only exists in that precise millisecond of Now,” he explains. “That’s the magic of improvisation, and why I love this music so much.”

The Now is also the title of Goldberg’s new Sunnyside album. It demonstrates how deeply he values the furtive communion of jazz.

It also reveals the heightened state of communication his trio – with bassist Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland on drums – has achieved over their sixteen years together.

A studio recording, the album captures the group’s spontaneity on the bandstand, and the scope of Goldberg’s interests.

The album opens with “Trocando em Miudos” by singer-songwriter Chico Buarque, one of three Brazilian compositions on the album, along with Djavan’s “Triste Bahia da Guanabara” and Toninho Horta’s “Francisca.”

“Brazilians are extremely adept at writing emotionally powerful songs that hit you hard from the first second,” says Goldberg. “If you listen to Cole Porter, it’s hidden under all this wry humor.”

Goldberg describes “Yo Yo” as a “standard” from a different traditional repertoire: the “kompa” music of Haiti, where he has visited many times.

“Haiti was kind of the first stop for West African music in the New World,” he says, “and it affected jazz deeply through New Orleans.”

“Background Music” is a reworking by pianist Lennie Tristano of the standard “All Of Me.” Goldberg gives Charlie Parker’s “Perhaps” a twist, playing the melody with both hands, but out of phase - one beat apart.

Throughout, Goldberg, Rogers and Harland celebrate the kind of higher consciousness that can emerge from jazz, when we are fortunate, on the bandstand.

“When everything’s going well, you’re not thinking, and you’re taken over by your senses – what’s going into your ear is directly coming of your fingers,” Goldberg says of his state of mind in improvisation.  “You’re kind of immersed in the overall sound of the instruments, At that point, you’ve lost yourself, in a good way.”

The Now offers many moments to lose oneself in a good way. If after hearing it you’d like more – I do - Goldberg, Rogers and Harland will be at New York’s Jazz Standard Jan. 15 through 18th.

The album hits stores Jan. 20.

   - Tim WIlkins, WBGO digital content producer

 

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