One of my favourite groups of recent years has without a doubt been the organ trio made up of organist Larry Goldings, guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Bill Stewart. All three musicians are highly in demand in the international jazz scene. Peter Bernstein has worked with Brad Mehldau, Joshua Redman, and Bobby Hutcherson, and studied with Jim Hall. Larry Goldings, who is equally accomplished as a pianist, has played with John Scofield, Jack DeJohnette, Toots Thielemans, and Michael Brecker. Bill Stewart has an equally impressive resume and has arguably inspired an entire generation of drummers.
This group wasn’t co-led from the beginning. The first recording featuring this lineup is Larry Goldings’ 1993 album, Light Blue (Minor Music). Peter Bernstein’s Earth Tones (Criss Cross) appeared in 1998, and Goldings’ Moon Bird (Palmetto Records) in 1999, with exactly the same line-up. Are you beginning to see a trend here?
Finally in 2011, after countless gigs and tours, and taking turns as band leader, the three released Berstein/Goldings/Stewart: Live at Smalls. Three years later, they released their first official co-led studio recording, Ramshackle Serenade (Pirouet Records).
Across all of these recordings, the energy and mandate remain the same: a serious commitment to groove, and inventive melodies ahead of pure virtuosity. Peter Bernstein plays bluesy, soulful language that cuts through the harmony, unlike any guitarist on the planet. Larry Goldings and Bill Stewart do the same.
With some music the nuts and bolts have to be revealed to pique the listener’s interest. Don’t get me wrong—this group has serious harmonic and rhythmic depth. But what this music is about is pure heart and soul.