Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein & Bill Stewart, Perpetual Pendulum Review
by Nolan DeBuke
Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein & Bill Stewart have joined together and are releasing their Smoke Sessions Records debut called Perpetual Pendulum. Organist Larry Goldings, guitarist Peter Bernstein, and drummer Bill Stewart have set out to present a venture with a very modern vibe. The trio did not want to rehash a 60s soul jazz mode but instead, show that new expressions from a guitar/organ trio are alive and well. Goldings, Bernstein, and Stewart have a long history of performing together, creating chemistry and a flowing language between the three musicians. “We all really dig each other, and that’s probably the most important thing,” Goldings says in an attempt to explain the trio’s indefinable chemistry. There’s a lot of crossover in what we like to play and listen to, and our individual visions of jazz tend to align. It’s hard to say because we never really discuss it; we just try to make good records. We came up together.” The trio plays through a set of originals and standards on Perpetual Pendulum, totaling eleven tracks.
The trio’s take on the standard “Let’s Get Lost” called “Let’s Get Lots” shows their ‘modern’ approach to the jazz canon of material. The melody is augmented and given a modern groove. The chemistry between Goldings and Stewart is the core of the trio’s feel, and the two create a large pocket and feel that is very comfortable. Goldings’ solo explores the harmony with memorable motifs and rhythmic diversity. Bernstein’s instantly recognizable guitar tone fills the space for the second solo; his ideas are angular and are colored with modern melodic/harmonic relationships.
Stewart’s “FU Donald” is a jazz funk-rock feel containing mixed meters. The trio conversationally explores the groove as Bernstein builds his solo. Bernstein explains, “I think we all share a pure feeling of gratitude. With these cats, I feel pressured to play my best because they’ve heard everything I can do. At the same time, I feel comfortable trying anything with them because I know whatever I do, they’re going to hold it together. We’ve all grown through our individual experiences, but we always come back to this. And it’s only getting better.” The chemistry in this selection certainly supports his emotions and the performance is a powerful musical statement of today’s jazz sounds and colors.
Perpetual Pendulum is a furtherance of a working jazz trio that has a musical language built through thirty years of performing together. Goldings/Bernstein/Stewart have a well-established history within the jazz scene, and jazz fans familiar with their work will find Perpetual Pendulum another solid addition to their catalog, while new fans will find it easy to connect to the trio’s style of jazz through their creative handling of recognizable jazz melodies.