• Village Vanguard Live: Bernstein, Goldings & Stewart

    November 14, 2013. Posted by Chris Dennison.

    A great organ trio is like your favorite diner. You know the dishes and ingredients by heart, but they taste better every time, so you always want to come back for more.

    Listen now to Larry Goldings on organ, Peter Bernstein on guitar and and drummer Bill Stewart from New York’s Village Vanguard, as broadcast live by WBGO on November 13.

    Photo by John Rogers for NPRMusic/WBGO
    Photo by John Rogers for NPRMusic/WBGO

    Listeners love what these three serve up, with good reason. After twenty-five years together, they show an almost telepathic ability to read each other’s moves and predict where their improvisations will take them.

    While they have been billed over time as the Larry Goldings Trio and the Peter Bernstein Trio, at the Vanguard they are billed as what they truly are: a deeply intuitive and collaborative trio.

    Goldings’ relocation to the West Coast and busy schedules as sidemen make these trio gigs less frequent, but they are worth the wait. When these three play together, they sound like they are coming home: they combine a harmonically developed post-bop approach to melody with down-home blues and a hard-driving swing feel.

    The group’s 2011 CD Live at Smalls offers a good introduction to this sound, in particular their take on “Milestones.” Goldings launches the iconic Miles Davis piece with with an esoteric free introduction, after which the band joins him for a statement of the melody and a solo by Bernstein.

    Goldings then steers the tune back towards the freer side of things, with intervallic passages and skillfully employed reiterations of material from the tune. Stewart’s sense of melody is on full display during his solo on “Milestones,” and he provides thoughtful accompaniment throughout, from his subtle brushwork on “Nobody Else But Me” to the way he drives Bernstein and Goldings on the swinging “Chant.”

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