All right, enough with the book stuff, at least for a while. Here is something quite wonderful in my little pop v. jazz series – pianist Aaron Goldberg tearing up Stevie Wonder’s classic hit.
The tune comes from Goldberg’s superb new CD, Home. (It’s unfortunate that this CD has the same title as the wonderful live duo recording by Bruce Barth and Steve Wilson which I am very fond of, not least because there’s a shot of the back of my head on the CD cover. But I digress.) Goldberg is backed by two of my favorite players, drummer Eric Harland and bassist Reuben Rogers. Saxophonist Mark Turner also joins in on some tracks. Goldberg’s playing is in turn sweetly melodic and then strongly, excitingly percussive. He’s got technique to die for. All-round bad-ass pianist. I love this whole album.
As for this song in particular – well, what’s not to love? It’s a great tune, of course, but Goldberg has taken it and turned it into something quite new. I love the romping, syncopated motif he returns to throughout the song. You’d never guess on first listen what you were listening to, but it makes perfect musical sense once you hear the chorus – which he plays about as straight as a jazz musician can. The first time you hear it, at 1:08, is a true ah-ha! moment. Now I can’t listen to the original version without Goldberg’s delicious refinements echoing through my head.