AMN Reviews: Goldberg, Brown, and Anderson – The Reckoning (2017; Minus Zero)

Minus Zero is a new label started by Vijay Anderson, Ben Goldberg, and Dina Maccabee. All of the proceeds from album sales are donated to Planned Parenthood. This is the first review of what will (hopefully) be several covering the label’s releases.

This trio date from 2015 features Ben Goldberg on clarinet, Sheldon Brown on alto sax, and Vijay Anderson on drums. The eleven mostly-short tracks involve rolling contrapuntal melodies from Goldberg and Brown over Anderson’s supple percussion. Though solidly in a free-jazz vein, Goldberg and Brown alternate between providing main themes over which the other improvises shifting motifs. This adds an element of structure to an otherwise unpredictable mix. Their playing encompasses a modern form of post-bop; familiar, yet angular and discordant. Anderson’s contribution could be described in a number of ways, but a cross between Alex Cline and Chris Corsano is one. He establishes timing in a busy and mercurial fashion, playing in response to his bandmates as well as stretching out on his own. But the trio is at best when each is exploring within the context of the group’s spontaneously transforming orientations and frames of reference.