With credentials as a sideman with such contemporary icons as Maceo Parker, John Scofield, Michael Brecker and Pat Metheny, Larry Goldings has proven his prowess as an organist poised at the forefront of the modern jazz scene. On As One
, Goldings, bassist Peter Bernstein and drummer Bill Stewart display the heightened sense of awareness and interplay that can come only from more than a decade of hard-earned familiarity. However, this dynamic of comfort within the group rarely translates into an open challenge for each member to stretch his individual limits. Accounting for the title of the opening tune, "Mixed Message," listeners can only speculate that the intent is to forgo involved exploration in favor of a feel that merely hints at possibilities. On other songs, such as the disc's title track, stagnant and static soundscapes result from this approach.
As One has its share of memorable moments, from Stewart's extraordinary set work on his own composition, "Mynah," to Bernstein's soul-stirring guitar lines on the Henderson/Brown standard "The Thrill Is Gone." On Goldings' fusion/blues number, "Back in the Day," his funk chops find familiar ground, accentuated by Bernstein's inventive comping and Stewart's solid groove. While As One might ultimately make up in style and variety what it lacks in substance, it still doesn't quite live up to the expectations created by Goldings' lofty standing.