Ned Goold: March of the Malcontents

Very nice backing trio, serialist but sonorous saxophonist

Ned Goold

March of the Malcontents

Label: Smalls
US Release Date: 2007-02-13
UK Release Date: Available as import

Ned Goold has beautiful command of tenor saxophone and extraordinary sensitivity, as suggested by his performance on Backstabbers' Ball, the Smalls CD by the bassist on this set, Neal Caine, for whose playing the sleeve note writer (proprietor of Smalls Records) coins the good phrase "melodious thunder." Caine has a big sound strong in low resonances, which lets him do the basic, basal bass job too many extraordinary technicians simply neglect to do. He has earthiness and relaxation to go with great energy and drive and real imagination, and is the most important player in this quartet.

His energy is matched by that of the pianist, Sacha Perry, and with a subtle and effective drummer in Charles Goold, this is an ideal ensemble, a point which has to be made prior to expressing some reservations about the leader's performance. Ned Goold here plays very much in a manner which can be heard on old Lennie Tristano recordings, referred to as (capital C) 'Cool', but sometimes just at too low a temperature. It's certainly not insulting to liken Ned Goold to the wonderful tenorist Warne Marsh, and the music here is never chilly like some Tristano-Marsh recordings, but as on those cold things there's something not quite right happening here. Goold can seem at times to lapse into an excessive introversion, to leave the propulsion to Caine principally, and lose his way in what the liner note alludes to as an improvisational method of his own. His own solo playing leads off on every track, but on most he plays better and more interestingly when he comes in again after the solos by the pianist, bassist, and on some tracks the drummer.

Bernstein's "Paris Waltz" is an improvement on the Goold-composed opener, with some melodic substance to elicit the tenorist's exceptionally beautiful phrasing. The solo's OK, but when Goold comes in quietly in duet with the bassist there's a greater animation and interest in what he plays. He's no longer out there with the oblique, fragmenting, and maybe even detached playing which sounds somewhat Monkish on "Goooold". Is there evidence here of an off-day or off-period? "Lovely to Look At" is more satisfactory, and with the brisk tempo of "Please" pushing him along against tendencies to lay back and even lag, there's another far from negligible performance.

Jerome Kern's "(It's Only) Make Believe" has wonderful lyrical phrasing on a short introductory passage, which fully brings out the merits of the melody and of the tenor saxophonist delivering it. Then there's a fresh start and one clear example when Goold doesn't come back much better after the others' solos. I've no idea why "Sour and Ugly" is so called -- it's something like Monk's "Straight, No Chaser" with its elements shifted around, and Goold's fragmenting manner too often misses any presentation of continuity. Many of the successive phrases or passages don't seem to relate to what went after and what follows.

Perry's approach here is like the most Monkish Bud Powell, and in general of so intensely well-worked a style he might be expected to continue a gradual development until one day he takes people by surprise. Here, he is lively when appropriate, relaxed, and strongly melodic, to an extent I've not heard from him before. On "What Is This Thing Called Love", he pours out a joyous celebration of classic variants on that theme, and I have to say that while far from endorsing Ned Goold's overall performance here, I do find the rhythm section delivering something special. I might even suppose the ultimate reason for my doubts could be the circumstance of Goold performing in a studio for the first time as leader of a quartet under his name. When he's good, he's very very good.

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

Keep reading... Show less

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.