Ben Goldberg: Unfold Ordinary Mind; Thursday, September 19, 2013


Ben Goldberg: Unfold Ordinary Mind
Thursday, September 19
Kuumbwa Jazz

“…[a] galvanizing improviser…” – San Francisco Chronicle

Recently named in the DownBeat Critic’s Poll as a “Rising Star” of the clarinet, Ben Goldberg is living up to the hype with his new band/album: Unfold Ordinary Minds.  Featuring a highly attuned band consisting of indie rock guitar god (and member of Wilco) Nels Cline, saxophonists Ellery Eskelin and Rob Sudduth, and drummer Ches Smith, this group brings Goldberg’s newest compositions to full vibrancy. It highlights Goldberg on the rarely heard Eb contra alto clarinet, exploring a new and refreshing type of bass role.

Although he’s long been acclaimed as an educator and clinician, Goldberg has generally kept a low profile when it comes to his own albums.  Unfold Ordinary Minds, however, is destined to shift this trajectory.  With an all-star band, spearheaded by Goldberg and Cline, the album inserts, according to the New York Times, “a feeling of joyous research into the basics of polyphony and collective improvising, the constant usefulness of musicians intuitively coming together and pulling apart.”

As Goldberg puts it, “I have been developing my abilities on the Eb contra alto clarinet (a weird member of the [reed] family, pitched below the bass clarinet) for some years, mostly in my work with the group Tin Hat.  Somehow it occurred to me to have a band where I was the bass player, on this instrument.  Of course the group would need two of my tenor saxophone heroes (Ellery Eskelin and Rob Sudduth), a guitar genius (and now certifiable rock star) Nels Cline, and the deeply tumultuous drummer Ches Smith. So after finishing up the premier of my latest giant project, Orphic Machine, in March of 2012, I wrote a bunch of songs and assembled this crew at the Bunker studio in Williamsburg one day in May. We learned the tunes, rehearsed, and recorded them all in just a few hours, and the results are extraordinary — raw, dire, and to the point.”

Cline’s quicksilver fretwork, with its mosaic of distortion, quavering tremolos and clouds of feedback are a focal point of this project, providing a theatrical rock intensity.  Eskelin and Sudduth more than hold their own and emphasize the soulful blues and R&B undertones of Goldberg’s melodies and lush harmonies.  There is a slinky lyricism in these compositions, and Goldberg’s new bass expression on the Eb contra alto clarinet is a fresh and welcome flavor.

Clarinetist, composer, and bandleader Ben Goldberg grew up in Denver, Colorado. He received his undergraduate music degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Master of Arts in Composition from Mills College. He was a pupil of the eminent clarinetist Rosario Mazzeo, and studied with Steve Lacy and Joe Lovano.   John Zorn says of Goldberg, “one of the greatest clarinetists I’ve ever heard.”

Ben Goldberg: Unfold Ordinary Mind

DATE: Thursday, September 19, 2013
VENUE: Kuumbwa Jazz Center
ADDRESS: 320 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
TIME: 7:00 PM
PRICE: $20/Adv $23/Door; ½ Price Night for Students
TICKETS: Logos Books & Records, 1117 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz (831) 427-5100 and online at:
MORE INFO: or 831-427-2227

Media contact:
Sandy Sloan


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