Rolling Stone: 20 Best Jazz Albums of 2018

JP Schlegelmilch, Jonathan Goldberger and Jim Black, ‘Visitors’

From 2000 through 2013, drummer-composer Jim Black melded exploratory jazz and atmospheric rock on a brilliant series of albums with his group Alasnoaxis. This year, some of those ideas resurfaced on this striking and ultimately unclassifiable set, a collaboration with keyboardist JP Schlegelmilch and guitarist Jonathan Goldberger, who split compositional duties. Springing as much from gritty prog and wide-eyed psychedelia as from adventurous contemporary improv, the music on Visitorscombines gripping melodic invention with deep textural intrigue. That the album could appeal as much to a Bowie or King Crimson fan as a listener steeped in the jazz sphere these three players inhabit says a lot about the seamlessness of Visitors’ ingenious stylistic blend.  

Bandcamp Daily review: Visitors & Superette

The Best Jazz on Bandcamp: September 2018


This trio recording from keyboardist JP Schlegelmilch, guitarist Jonathan Goldberger and drummer Jim Black starts out as a reasonable deviation of post-bop, then quickly veers into the wild expressionism of post-jazz, and just keeps upping the intensity of the surprises. There’s some indie rock, some shoegaze, some avant-garde, all of which comes together in a cohesive vision. Fun, fun, fun. And if you want to hear more of Jonathan Goldberger, then just move along to the next recommendation.


For all of his explorations of the modern jazz sound, Chris Lightcap keeps finding different ways to channel music’s past into this affair. This leads to some fascinating threads of old-school music woven into the bassist’s tunes, and it could be anything from swing to drug rock to Motown to surf guitar to emerge. Lightcap’s latest goes heavy on guitar, featuring Jonathan Goldberger, Curtis Hasselbring, and Nels Cline. With organist John Medeski and drummer Dan Rieser in the mix, there’s a guiding hand towards a groove to round out the guitar edginess.

Rolling Stone review: Visitors

16 New Albums to Stream Now: Christine & the Queens, Prince, Brockhampton and More Editors’ Picks

JP Schlegelmilch / Jonathan Goldberger / Jim Black, Visitors
When great musicians put genre concerns aside and just play, good things tend to happen. That’s that the case on this new collaborative album from guitarist Jonathan Goldberger, synth player JP Schlegelmilch and drummer Jim Black, all best known as members of New York’s jazz vanguard. The trio’s fuzzed-out, groove-driven, often brightly melodic sound might bring to mind various touchstones — Tortoise, early-Seventies King Crimson, Black’s own (and excellent) Alasnoaxis — but this band is playing songs (two by Goldberger, six by Schlegelmilch) rather than any predetermined style. The trio’s chemistry is apparent whether they’re digging into a proggy fusion groove, nursing a chaotic noise-jazz swell or simply letting a tender theme breathe. Are they playing gritty post-jazz? Emotive, wordless rock? Regardless, it just works. Hank Shteamer

Stereogum review: Visitors

Ugly Beauty: The Month In Jazz – September 2018

Jonathan Goldberger/JP Schlegelmilch/Jim Black, Visitors (Skirl)

The organ trio is one of the great gifts jazz has given the world. Whether it was Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery, or Grant Green and Big John Patton, the combination – when joined a properly funky drummer – is irresistible. Well, guitarist Jonathan Goldberger, keyboardist JP Schlegelmilch, and drummer Jim Black have found a way to combine classic organ trio whomp with 21st century weirdness on their debut album, Visitors. “Corvus,” the first single, builds from a strange and atmospheric keyboard intro that floats through the room like a toxic cloud to some seriously stinging barbed-wire blues guitar, and eventually some harsh interactions develop between the two men, creating a surging, aggro groove, all driven by Black’s rock-solid drumming. This is definitely a studio record; there are a lot of layers. But it all comes together into something organic and deeply felt.

The Vinyl District review: Visitors

JP Schlegelmilch, Jonathan Goldberger, Jim Black, Visitors (Skirl) The label describes the debut of organist-keyboardist Schlegelmilch, guitarist Goldberger, and drummer Black as a “21st-century take on the organ trio,” but it’s dang far from a remodeling of Brother Jack McDuff or even Larry Young. There are connections to fusion, but aggressively executed and with just as much affiliation with the avant-garde. Goldberger’s playing can suggest Sonny Sharrock, Jeff Parker, and even a little Robert Fripp, but mostly he’s reminiscent of none of ‘em as Schlegelmilch never noodles and Black is both hard-hitting and expansive with nary a showoff move within earshot. Overall, instead of fusion, the gist here is closer to post-rock and heavy prog, so if you’re into Tortoise and Cuneiform Records then step right up. A-

Jazztrail review: "Visitors"

This cohesive new organ trio co-led by Brooklyn-based keyboardist JP Schlegelmilch, guitarist Jonathan Goldberger, and drummer Jim Black, ventures down creative paths of indie rock with a casual, serrated jazzy edge in its statements. Their album, Visitors, is staggeringly crafted with a rugged, psychedelic rock technique and assertive textural developments, featuring eight tracks whose instrumental depth is consummated by the magical interplay among the trio members.

Corvus” is a prog-rock archetypal that perhaps better illustrates this. Electronic manipulations precede the excavation of a 7/4 groove exalted by sturdy rock moves and fleshed out by an incandescent guitar solo that comprehends flickering sound waves, bluesy riffs, arpeggiated sequences, and jazzy chords. After a calmer passage, the groove shifts to six, seducing Schlegelmilch and Goldberger to embark on a cross-conversational dialogue while Black holds to a funky percussive flux.

Showcasing brighter tones and intense emotions, “Ether Sun” is a Pink Floyd-esque song elegantly arranged with soaring keyboard sounds, smooth bass coordination, and firmly fixed rhythm.

Stressing idiomatic rock textures, “Lake Oblivion” is divided into two distinct yet complementary parts. The first one carries a restless ambiguity in its classic hard-rock charisma, while the second, advancing at a 5/4 tempo, equips the same package with popish acoustic instrumentation and a distorted electric fizz.

The title track comes hooked in a triple meter. The versatile drummer moves with sheer boldness, supporting the use of methodical synth maneuvers for ambient and noisy guitar strokes for impact.

If “Chiseler” erupts with tactile dissonances and power chords in a clear inclination toward prog-rock, then “Terminal Waves” has its climatic peak with Goldberger’s cryptic metal-inflected solo over an exquisite textural work that becomes slightly tumultuous until mitigated by atmospheric organ layers and drones.

Being a deluxe product of like-minded cohorts, Visitors is also striking and rewarding, displaying enough personality and range to keep us thrilled.

National Sawdust Log interview: Visitors

Schlegelmilch, Goldberger & Black: Three of a Mind

The organ trio is a time-honored jazz convention—only in conventional terms, the band usually is built around the Hammond B-3, the funky old keyboard heard on recordings by Jimmy Smith, Larry Young, and Medeski Martin & Wood. But Visitors, a new album by the trio of organist JP Schlegelmilch, guitarist Jonathan Goldberger, and drummer Jim Black, is built around an altogether different instrument: the Yamaha YC-30, an instrument favored by outward-bound players like Miles Davis, Sun Ra, and (maybe?) Donald Fagen.

Despite that instrument’s vintage, Visitors – due Sept. 21 on saxophonist Chris Speed’s Skirl Records – offers a thoroughly updated vision of what an organ trio can do. Schlegelmilch’s spacey tones and psychedelic drones meet their match in Goldberger’s throaty guitar sound; Black provides his trademark mix of textural finesse and outright pummel. The trio’s tight interplay speaks to similarly open minds, as well as plenty of time logged together on various bandstands.

Via email, Schlegelmilch and Goldberger took questions about how the band and album came to be.

NATIONAL SAWDUST LOG: Tell us about how the three of you got together originally. I understand that the band started with JP and Jonathan connecting? Where had the two of you come from, and how did you meet?

JP SCHLEGELMILCH: Jonathan and I met through playing informal sessions with mutual musician friends. We lived in the same neighborhood (Greenpoint, Brooklyn) and eventually started playing duo, so I started writing music for guitar and piano. I grew up in New Hampshire.

JONATHAN GOLDBERGER: That was it…I’d stroll over to JP’s place with a coffee and we’d improvise. I grew up in Florida, then moved to NYC from Colorado back in 2001.

What did you hear in each other’s work that led you to collaborate? What were your shared interests and goals?

SCHLEGELMILCH: Jonathan has a unique approach to expanding the sound of his guitar through effects, and his playing has a lot more raw energy than many other contemporary jazz guitarists. We also shared musical tastes beyond jazz, especially more experimental rock artists like Talk Talk, Dirty Projectors, and Sufjan Stevens.

GOLDBERGER: I really dig JP’s writing, and his approach to improvising has this great emphasis on texture, which always appeals to me.

How did you come to decide that Jim Black was the missing piece of the band?

GOLDBERGER: Not long after I moved to NYC, I played in a big band led by Andrew D’angelo. I met so many killer musicians in that group—most of whom I’d go on to play in other projects with—and Jim was one of them. He’s one of the most influential drummers alive, he makes music come to life in whatever project he’s on … He’s probably the missing piece in any band.

SCHLEGELMILCH: I think that when I heard bands like AlasNoAxis, YeahNo, and Human Feel, I recognized an aesthetic that I really identified with. I like the way these bands were able to put rock music, free improvisation, strong melodies, and an interesting approach to compositional form together in a meaningful way. I’d always aspired to play with Jim, and this group’s music seemed meant for him somehow.

Reading up on jazz history, you can’t miss references to the Hammond B-3 organ. But this group is built around a different instrument, the Yamaha YC-30. How did this instrument spark this band’s musical approach? Where might listeners have heard it before?

SCHLEGELMILCH: Jonathan introduced me to the Yamaha YC-30 organ when he sent me an eBay listing. He told me it was the keyboard that Miles Davis played during his electric period (you can hear it on the track “Rated X”). It was also supposedly Sun Ra’s favorite keyboard! The Talking Heads also used it, and Terry Riley played the Yahama YC-45 organ (tuned to just intonation!) in his improvised solo concerts. There’s a hypnotic quality to the organ’s tone that makes playing a simple drone feel really satisfying. I found that I wrote things on the organ that were harmonically much simpler and straightforward than what I would do on piano.

GOLDBERGER: I think it’s on Miles’s Pangaea and Agharta albums, too. Our intention was to approach the definitive organ/guitar/drum trio from a new angle. The Hammond organ is such a beautiful and classic instrument—we thought, let’s try something with a different timbre that hasn’t been heard so much in this context.

How did the music on your new album take shape? Did you write pieces in advance and work on them together, or did you come up with everything in full collaboration?

SCHLEGELMILCH: Some of the music grew out of the duo collaborations we did years ago, and the last two pieces on the album were part of a suite that I wrote for piano and guitar. The rest we wrote specifically for this organ trio.

Is there a specific meaning to the album’s title?

GOLDBERGER: Visitors can mean a lot of things, but for me it’s a nod to the themes surrounding the ’70s film The Man Who Fell to Earth, as well as the novel Stranger in a Strange Land. My filmmaker brother Julian Goldberger shot the photo for the cover, and he captured our vibe perfectly.

SCHLEGELMILCH: I feel it suggests a kind of impending environmental disaster. Visitors could mean humans as visitors on the planet, and I love that the image of the deserted beach suggests something post-apocalyptic.

How did you connect with Skirl?

GOLDBERGER: Skirl is musician Chris Speed’s label; I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, and have fortunately had the chance to play with him on a few different projects over the years. The label itself has a great aesthetic, both musically and visually. It just made sense to be part of that family.

Where do you hope to see things go from here?

SCHLEGELMILCH: We’re playing some shows throughout the Northeast to promote the album over the next few months. I’ve been writing new music, and sensing lots of possibilities for new musical directions that could be explored.

GOLDBERGER: Let’s make another record!

Visitors is available for pre-order on vinyl and CD through the Skirl Records website, and in a variety of download file formats on Bandcamp. Schlegelmilch, Goldberger, and Black celebrate their new release with a show on Sept. 20 at 9pm at Nublu in Manhattan’s East Village;

All About Jazz review: Superette + Visitors

Nouveau Fusion: Superette And Visitors

Chris Lightcap 
Royal Potato Family 

Bereft of forced funk and over-complicated compositions, jazz-rock fusion can be as liberating as the best rock and roll. That is, if the technical expertise brought to bear is restrained and sublimated to the unity of the ensemble and the musicians involved play with the unity of a true band. Then the emotional expression usually contained in song lyrics permeates the musicianship. Witness the work of Chris Lightcap and company as well as Jonathan Goldberger, JP Schlegelmilch, Jim Black: maintaining a relatively simple approach to composition and arrangement, the musicians on this pair of recordings drain the hybrid phrase of its negative connotations and imbue it with a durable novelty. Companion pieces of the highest order, these two LP's will just as likely mesmerize the mind as motivate the body. 

JP Schlegelmilch, Jonathan Goldberger & Jim Black 
Skirl Records 

Perhaps because there is but a single guitar on Visitors-the versatile and ever resourceful guitarist and composer Jonathan Goldberger is the common denominator between the two records-the dissonance that ever-so-lightly leavens its companion piece is slightly more prevalent. Titular leader and keyboardist JP Schlegelmilch supplies most of it, albeit in the most understated fashion, conjuring atmosphere further enhanced by this stereo audio mix (even featuring some acoustic guitar on "Lake Oblivion II"). Crescendos like those opening the album on its titlesong evince more than just a hint of swing, while the synchrony of the band is just as evident during improvisational intervals. Over the course of eight tracks in the four-to-seven minute range, Visitors carries an impact both visceral and cerebral.

Tracks and Personnel 


Tracks: Selector; She Walked In; Far Away Planet; While You Were Out; Djali; Calling On Cars; Ace Of Spades; Light Trails; All Come To Meet Her; Frozen Bread; Birds. 

Personnel: Personnel: Chris Lightcap: bass guitar; Jonathan Goldberger: guitar; Curtis Hasselbring: guitar; Dan Rieser: drums; Nels Cline: electric guitar, lap steel; John Medeski: organ. 


Tracks: Visitors; Chiseler; Ether Sun; Corvus; Lake Oblivion I; Lake Oblivion II; Terminal Waves; Island. 

Personnel: JP Schlegelmilch: organ, keyboards; Jonathan Goldberger: guitar: Jim Black: drums.

The Brooklyn Rail preview: Visitors at Nublu 151

September 20: Jonathan Goldberger/JP Schlegelmilch/Jim Black Visitors Album Release Concert at Nublu. Consisting of heavy-hitters culled from the Brooklyn jazz avant-garde, the trio of guitarist Jonathan Goldberger, keyboardist JP Schlegelmilch, and drummer Jim Black go prog-rock-heavy and spaced-out on Visitors (Skirl Records), a sprawling, otherworldly shred-fest that’s like Sun Ra jamming with King Crimson.

Downbeat preview: Visitors

For more than two decades, Jim Black’s been the backbeat to some extraordinary collaborations, usually settled somewhere at the fringes of the jazz ecosystem.

In a new trio, the drummer continues working some avant and psychedelic sounds into the genre alongside guitarist Jonathan Goldberger and keyboardist JP Schlegelmilch. The troupe, angling to re-invigorate the organ trio format, is set to issue its debut, Visitors, on Sept. 21.

The effort veers from rock-inflected, grandiose gestures on “Chiseler” to McLaughlin-meets-ambient gambits on “Terminal Waves.” Below is the debut of another track from the album, “Corvus,” a cut spacey enough to generate empathy for long-lost space explorers and robots, despite being named after a bird.

“Corvus refers to crows—it’s the genus of birds they belong to. And some kind of black magic did happen in the studio with this track,” Goldberger said. “It’s written in a meter that’s odd and not so intuitive, and Jim just ate it for breakfast. The intro is interesting in that we pre-recorded JP’s organ into a ’70s Korg tape echo, then had to sync it up with tape playback.”

For additional information about the upcoming disc, visit Skirl RecordsDB

Relix review: Red Baraat "Sound the People"

Percussionist and bandleader Sunny Jain elevates his pounding bhangra band Red Baraat to a more nuanced and artistically sophisticated space on Sound the People. In its new stripped-down sextet format, with hotshots like guitarist Jonathan Goldberger adding new dimensions of sonic info, the loud, raucous Punjabi wedding music of the group’s earlier albums takes on extra wit, smarts and gravitas. The rapper Heems speaks for all immigrants in the title track’s call to arms, and the luxurious acoustic meditation and universalist verses of “Vibrations” are echoed later in the album by comedian John Hodgman during colonialist critique “Punjaub March.”

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