A few years ago, I was in my local Future Shop store, browsing through the computer section, when I heard this amazing jazz tune emanating from a desktop PC. It was Aaron Goldberg’s "Oam's Blues," a barnstorming straight-ahead number, being played from the Windows Vista sample music folder, which is on all Vista computers. I headed to my favorite local book store, which has the largest selection of jazz CDs in the city, to inquire about the Aaron Goldberg CD, Worlds. The clerk had a copy and was surprised that I had heard about Goldberg.
I quickly relayed my story to him and have been following Goldberg’s recording career ever since, always hoping that he would perform in Winnipeg. He actually was here a few years ago, as a sideman in the Jazz Winnipeg Festival, but back then I didn't know anything about him.
When the Izzy Asper Jazz Performance concert series announced its 2011-12 offering of shows last year, I was excited to see that Goldberg's trio was booked for three shows in March 2012. While at Harvard University, he won the International Association of Jazz Educators' Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Fellowship. After graduating, he performed as a sideman, most notably with Joshua Redman. In 2010, he earned his Master's degree in Analytic Philosophy from Tufts University. He’s well-educated in addition to being a top-notch jazz pianist.
There is no doubt that Aaron Goldberg is a rising star in the jazz world. His March 10 performance in Winnipeg was even more than I expected. During the quieter compositions, his playing was simply beautiful. His playing during the speedier numbers was dazzling, churning out a furious set of notes all while contributing to a glorious vortex of sound along with drummer Gregory Hutchinson and double bassist Reuben Rogers. Goldberg was gracious and affable as he spoke about key figures in the local jazz scene and how they were turning Winnipeg into “the newest borough of New York ... the coldest borough.”
After playing "Oam's Blues," he said that the song title was censored by the Chinese government. The track "Mao's Blues" appears on his second album, 2001's Unfolding. Throughout the show, when he spoke to the audience, he frequently used the term "de-arranged" to joke but also describe how the trio interpreted other composers' works in their own unique way. During intermission, after they had just performed such a number, the buzz word heard among the audience was "wow!"