Clarinetist Ben Goldberg grew up in Denver, Colorado and currently lives in Berkeley, California. He was a pupil of the eminent clarinetist Rosario Mazzeo, and studied with Steve Lacy and Joe Lovano. Goldberg’s group New Klezmer Trio took a slightly different view of the klezmer tradition. Their CD Masks and Faces was listed as one of the ten best recordings of 1992 by Cadence magazine, and as The San Francisco Chronicle noted, it "kicked open the door for radical experiments with Ashkenazi roots music." Masks and Faces and Melt Zonk Rewire, as well as the group's third CD Short for Something, are on the Tzadik label. Ben's other recordings include a record of duets with Kenny Wollesen, The Relative Value of Things (33 ¼ Records); two records by Junk Genius (with John Schott, Trevor Dunn, and Wollesen): Junk Genius (Knitting Factory Works), an examination of the bebop repertoire, and Ghost of Electricity (Songlines), dealing with aspects of American folk music; Light at the Crossroads (Songlines) with Marty Ehrlich; Here by Now (Music and Arts); What Comes Before (Tzadik), reflections on post-tonal harmonic structures with John Schott and Michael Sarin; and Twelve Minor (Avant), compositions for sextet featuring Miya Masaoka. Goldberg is currently planning a record of new compositions for solo clarinet.
In addition to leading his own quintet, Ben Goldberg currently performs with Carla Kihlstedt, Mark Orton, Zeena Parkins and Ara Anderson in the group Tin Hat; in [plays monk], a trio with Scott Amendola and Devin Hoff; with the Graham Connah Group; and with John Schott’s Typical Orchestra.
The 11-piece Ben Goldberg's Brainchild performs Goldberg's on-the-spot compositions. In 1993 Goldberg received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to present a series featuring the work of important American composers, allowing him to work with Andrew Hill and Bobby Bradford in concerts of their compositions, as well as presenting the music of Steve Lacy, Herbie Nichols, and Thelonious Monk. In 1996 the NEA funded a concert series of Goldberg’s own music. In addition to Mr. Bradford and Mr. Hill, he has been honored to work with, among others, John Zorn, Vijay Iyer, Cecil Taylor, Roswell Rudd and Wilco guitarist Nels Cline. Goldberg is featured on Cline’s upcoming Cryptogramohone album, New Monastary, A View into the Music of Andrew Hill.