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Brandon Goldberg | Let's Play!

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Brad Mehldau Herbie Hancock Thelonious Monk

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United States - Florida

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Jazz: Traditional Jazz Combo Jazz: Traditional Jazz Combo Moods: Featuring Piano
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Let's Play!

by Brandon Goldberg

LET'S PLAY! is the debut album from pianist/composer Brandon Goldberg with Ben Wolfe (bass), Donald Edward (drums) and special guest Marcus Strickland (saxophone). LET'S PLAY! is a refined gift inspired by Monk, McCoy, Herbie, imbued with pure love & joy!
Genre: Jazz: Traditional Jazz Combo
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Well, You Needn’t (feat. Ben Wolfe & Donald Edwards)
4:12 $0.99
2. Blackbird (feat. Ben Wolfe & Donald Edwards)
5:17 $0.99
3. You Mean Me (feat. Marcus Strickland, Ben Wolfe & Donald Edwards)
5:50 $0.99
4. Angel Eyes (feat. Ben Wolfe & Donald Edwards)
6:42 $0.99
5. The Understream (feat. Ben Wolfe & Donald Edwards)
4:23 $0.99
6. Dolphin Dance (feat. Marcus Strickland, Ben Wolfe & Donald Edwards)
5:31 $0.99
7. Caravan (feat. Ben Wolfe & Donald Edwards)
6:21 $0.99
8. In a Sentimental Mood
6:48 $0.99
9. McCoy (feat. Ben Wolfe & Donald Edwards)
7:04 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Brandon Goldberg is a miracle of nature. No one knows where this preternatural gift came
from, but jazz fans the world over are going to be delighted it did. -Vita Muir - Founder, Litchfield Jazz Festival

When Brandon plays the piano people become delighted with his music -- not just jazz appreciators but people, folks. He is a people’s champion. I know, because I have seen him and heard him on several occasions - always knocking out the crowd. BG acquired the skill of playing one rhythm on top of another (or as music school folks call them, polyrhythms) as you can hear on “McCoy” -- very sophisticated stuff and a masterful performance for this 12 year old -- not because he’s a 12 year old but because he’s Brandon. Along with all of the cleverness, the sophistication and the tasteful choices, this young man is swinging-- swinging hard.

I appreciate that he chose to perform two songs by the great Duke Ellington (“In A Sentimental Mood” and “Caravan”), one by Thelonious Monk (“Well, You Needn’t”), one by Herbie Hancock (“Dolphin Dance”), the Beatles “Black Bird” and a special salute to Frank Sinatra (“Angel Eyes”), with interpretations that are entirely Brandon’s. Brandon is as affecting as any other new artist appearing on the scene today. I am a fan. - Monty Alexander, Pianist/Composer

The jazz world has come a long way in terms of judging musicians by what they play rather than who they are. It will no longer do to claim that someone plays “pretty good for a [fill in the appropriate gender, national origin, religious or sexual preference identifier].” Age, however, may be the final frontier, especially when approaching the music of someone as extraordinarily gifted as Brandon Goldberg, who was all of twelve years old when the music on this album was recorded.

If a listener had no knowledge of Goldberg’s age, however, what would he or she conclude? That the pianist/composer has a highly evolved understanding of the jazz tradition, and a gift for interpreting it in ways both appropriate and bold; a sophisticated harmonic concept and galvanic slant as an accompanist; a bold attack that never fails to swing; and an underlying spirit that can only be called infectious. Pretty good for a debut recording.

To hear Goldberg tell it, he has spent his life in the woodshed. “I started playing the piano to play the songs I liked in preschool,” he explains, “and my grandma introduced me to a lot of music – Andrea Bocelli at first, then Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, which led me to check out Tony Bennett with Bill Evans.” Classical studies ensued with a neighborhood teacher, but by age eight Goldberg was taking lessons at the University of Miami and the Litchfield Jazz Camp and Jazz Festival in Connecticut. “I was interested in jazz but wasn’t sure who to check out,” he says, crediting teachers including Ira Sullivan, Shelly Berg, Chuck Bergeron, Don Braden, Avery Sharpe, Matt Wilson and Paul Bollenbeck for their guidance. “And I’m so thankful for all of the musicians who let me sit in, because I was always there at the side of the stage.”

It was not just his teachers who found Goldberg impressive. Monty Alexander became both a huge fan and an on-call mentor. “When I got into `Angel Eyes,’ I called Monty and we talked for hours, with him playing the changes that he used when he accompanied Sinatra,” Goldberg reports. Dan Miller, a veteran of Harry Connick, Jr.’s trumpet section, is another longtime supporter who recruited bassist Ben Wolfe when Goldberg mentioned that he was ready to record his first album. Wolfe, excited by the pianist’s precocious skills, suggested drummer Donald Edwards, who then nine-year-old Goldberg had played with while sitting in with the Mingus Big Band. Tenor saxophonist and fellow Floridian Marcus Strickland was added for two quartet tracks, completing an ensemble of new friends who sound as if they’ve played together longer than Goldberg has been alive.

“I knew going in that I wanted to do all of the writing and arranging,” Goldberg says. “This was my first chance to put my spin on the music, to display my voice.” He has succeeded in a variety of ways, none more striking than his approach to the music of Thelonious Monk. “The more I check out Monk, the more I understand,” he notes, and proves the point in two performances that are Monkian in the best sense. On “Well, You Needn’t,” he avoids the common and frequently overused strategy of reharmonizing familiar material, choosing instead to re-accent the Monk classic in a manner that reveals rhythmic lessons learned. “You Mean Me,” one of two quartet tracks, both plays with the beat of “I Mean You” and takes the familiar melody through some funhouse mirror detours. “I realized that I should do to one of Monk’s tunes what he did to jazz,” Goldberg explains.

The other original compositions, “The Understream” (with both piano and Fender Rhodes, plus Edwards in a featured role) and “McCoy,” show other dimensions of the budding composer. “I’ve always written music, but `McCoy,’ the oldest piece of mine on the album, is the first thing I really felt proud playing,” he notes. The piece was inspired when Goldberg presented living legend McCoy Tyner with an award at a Jazz Foundation of America event, and then heard Tyner play a typically dynamic version of “Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit.” That piece is recalled in this performance, together with a bass introduction by Wolfe that captures the spirit of Tyner’s longtime Coltrane Quartet partner Jimmy Garrison.

Goldberg’s piano playing, his ability to hear and respond and inspire his mates, is consistently impressive, and his solo reading of Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” deserves special attention. Built around not just the classic melody but also the bold introductory figure that the composer employed in his 1962 encounter with John Coltrane, it puts most other versions to shame in terms of both technique and conception. “No one plays `In a Sentimental Mood’ like Coltrane and Ellington played it,” Goldberg emphasizes, “and the decision to build a performance off that introductory figure came to me in the moment when I performed in an Ellington concert. It reflects what I consider my path, giving the music a new life.”

That path can only lead to even better things from this most impressive, and most mature, new jazz star.
--Bob Blumenthal

I have so many people to thank… Thank you to Ben Wolfe, Donald Edwards, and Marcus Strickland for agreeing to be part of this project. I couldn’t have wished for better musicians and band-mates than you guys. To Ben Wolfe, thank you for everything you did to make this album great! I will always remember “Ben… and his friends” and I am so thankful for your friendship and our weekly phone calls. Thank you to Dan Miller for introducing me to Ben Wolfe, for always supporting me, for helping me find great musicians wherever I go, and for being an all-around amazing person. To Monty Alexander, a true mentor, friend and hero, thank you for your kind words, your friendship, your help with this album and for letting me share the stage with you. Thank you to Vita Muir for taking me in at Litchfield Jazz Camp when I was only 10 years old and for believing in me ever since. I am so grateful for your guidance, your words of wisdom and the special time we spend together. You will always be family to me!

Thank you to Wendy Oxenhorn and the Jazz Foundation of America for giving me so many amazing opportunities and experiences. To Dr. Paul Posnak, thank you for pushing me to be a better pianist, no matter what I play. Thank you to Dave Stoller at the Samurai Hotel Recording Studio for making us sound great and for putting up with all my questions about microphones. To Antoine Drye, for being a great friend to me and my family. To Rachel Faro, I am so grateful for your support and for putting the finishing touches on this project. To Sammy Figueroa, for your smile, big hugs, and for being a great inspiration in developing ideas and arrangements for this album. Very special thanks to Mary Ann Topper for all your support, guidance, expertise and time spent sharing your love of jazz and amazing stories with me. And thank you to Jason Byrne and Red Cat Publicity for spreading the word about this album.

Most importantly, thank you to my parents and my family for their continued support in everything I do; for traveling with me, believing in me and for helping make this album a reality.

Hope you all enjoy it. Now, LET’S PLAY! – Brandon Goldberg

Produced by Ben Wolfe
Executive Producer: Ella Goldberg
All arrangements by Brandon Goldberg

Recorded on January 19-21, 2018 at Samurai Hotel Recording Studio in Astoria, NY
Engineered, mixed and mastered by David Stoller

Brandon Goldberg – Piano (all tracks), Fender Rhodes (tracks 5 & 7)
Ben Wolfe – Bass (all except 8)
Donald Edwards – Drums (all except 8)
Marcus Strickland – Tenor Saxophone (tracks 3 & 6)
Marcus Strickland appears courtesy of Blue Note Records

Donald Edwards plays Sabian Cymbals and Ludwig Drums
Marcus Strickland plays P. Mauriat saxophones and Vandoren reeds

Art Direction: Rachel Faro
Album Design by Jaysen Moore
Cover & Disk Design by Samir Vasquez
Photography by Kasia Idzkowska Photography
Additional photography by Andrei Matorin and Alex Heidbuechel


℗ & © 2019 Brandon Goldberg Music, LLC. Miami, FL Warning: All rights reserved.
Made in USA.



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