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Roots (Randall Goosby)

Randall Goosby (violin), Zhu Wang (piano), Xavier Dubois Foley (double bass) (Decca)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Works by Dvorˇák, Coleridge-Taylor, Gershwin, F Price, Still and Xavier Dubois Foley
Randall Goosby (violin), Zhu Wang (piano), Xavier Dubois Foley (double bass)
Decca 485 1664   72:59 mins

This is the debut album of 24-year-old Randall Goosby, an American protégé of Itzhak Perlman, and it is very much designed to spread hope in these hurt and divided times. The most significant ingredient is the mixed-race violinist’s choice of repertoire: music by Black composers, or by those in the orbit of Black American culture. Roots also follows the modern tendency to spotlight an artist’s personal autobiography and cries from the heart – understandable in today’s world.

Goosby’s selections reveal him as a quietly lyrical artist with a gift for genre hopping well displayed in the Baroque/blues fusions of Coleridge-Taylor, Perkinson’s Blue/s Forms or Xavier Dubois Foley’s Shelter Island, in which violin and double bass spend five minutes hanging loose. By itself, Goosby’s lyricism proves too gentle to strengthen the more drooping portions of William Grant Still’s Suite for Violin and Piano, or the uneven items by Florence Price (recorded for the first time). But it certainly adds an extra allure to the cultural blendings in Dvořák’s G major Sonatina, Op. 100. Condemned in some pieces to the most trivial harmonies, Goosby’s piano partner Zhu Wang also delights in Dvořák’s meatier matter – indeed, he’s livelier than Goosby himself. Still, within its limits, this is an engaging album, warmly recorded.

Geoff Brown