The diversity of clarinetist Ben Goldberg's musical interests may only be matched by the intensity of his study. He grew up on The Beatles
and classic jazz, started playing Klezmer music at the University of California, Berkeley in the early '80s, and studied with renowned classical clarinet teacher Rossario Mazzeo. In 1984, he became the clarinetist for The Klezmorim, touring throughout the U.S. and Europe, where he also met and learned from the legendary soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy. In 1987, he started the New Klezmer Trio with drummer Kenny Wollesen
and bassist Dan Seamans, a band that led the way in injecting elements of jazz and the avant-garde to the previously insulated world of Jewish traditional music.
Since then, he has worked with musicians as influential and eclectic as Andrew Hill
, Bobby Bradford
, Bill Frissell, Vijay Iyer
, Myra Melford
, Nels Cline
, John Zorn
, and the genre-mashing Tin Hat outfit. Today, he is an integral part of the West Coast scene, and leads groups including the Ben Goldberg quintet, which crafted a deeply personal dedication to Steve Lacy with The Door, The Hat, The Chair, The Fact
(Cryptogramophone, 2006). 2009 saw the release of Speech Communication
(Tzadik, 2009), the first release from a version of the New Klezmer Trio in nine years. Goldberg also started his own record label to put out Go Home
(BAG Production Records, 2009), an album of his heavily grooving compositions played by a quartet with Charlie Hunter
on guitar, Ron Miles on trumpet, and Scott Amendola
AAJ Contributor Warren Allen spoke with Goldberg about Go Home, Tin Hat, and a multitude of other projects that have engaged this distinctive clarinetist over the years.
Check out Ben Goldberg: Clarinet Communion at AAJ today!