Ben Goldberg

Ben Goldberg School, Vol. 2: Hard Science
(BAG Productions)

Ben Goldberg’s tribute to the slain Black Panther Fred Hampton was a highly regarded presentation of his political bona fides, and that composition, released in 2021 and included on Everything Happens To Be, was enticement enough for activists unfamiliar with his music. The composition is at play on Ben Goldberg School, Vol. 2: Hard Science, but with a completely new ensemble, which is just as competent though they had to learn the songs by heart since no written music was brought to the studio. Goldberg, according to the album notes, asked the musicians to jump in whenever they chose to, and they chose to with vigor.

Each of the unnamed 14 or 15 tracks, depending on the listings here and elsewhere, has a mix of sonic variety, and for the most part the album is like an extended concerto without the traditional three sections. It begins with a refrain that has an overture-like feel to it and, to some extent, it occurs again later, although with a blend of different instruments, mostly with Goldberg’s clarinet in tandem with either Kasey Knudsen’s alto saxophone or Bob Reich’s accordion. In fact, there are moments when it’s difficult to separate the blend — and that is of no consequence.

Jeff Cressman’s trombone provides a pleasant but rhythmic bottom to the various improvised passages.

The remarkable drumming of Hamir Atwal stands out. He brings a lively and knowing facility that when mated with Nate Breener’s electric bass invests the often repeated melodic cycles with fresh sonority.

On Sale Now
April 2024
Béla Fleck
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