It’s a bit freaky to listen to an album that sounds like it spawns from a mature, seasoned jazz musician but is actually accomplished by a young, precocious kid. During a phone interview, Max Goldschmid comes across as a very collected, mature person. It is his musical ideas we are speaking of, which sound like they stem from someone who has been playing jazz for 30 years; the musician in question is in his senior year of high school.
Maximum Exposure was assembled to present the wide range of Max Goldschmid’s abilities; not just in his phrasing, but in his instrumentation. While he says he feels most comfortable on trumpet Goldschmid’s work on the soprano, alto and tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet or trombone won’t give that away. Goldschmid also presents three of his own compositions on this recording: “Omar’s Englightenment,” “Maximum Exposure” and “Apex.”
The only thing that might give away his development stage and age upon listening is his leaning toward pre-1960s jazz. Goldschmid is, however, a monster of a talent for a high school senior, and we can expect to see him develop into an amazing player. It’s surprising to learn that he doesn’t listen to a lot of jazz. If this is the product of not listening to a lot of jazz, it makes one wonder what the result will be once he really starts digging into the massive archive of jazz recordings and history. Multi-instrumentalists seem always drawn to composition. Max is no exception to the rule. He says he hopes after high school to continue studying to be a composer. If his musical phrasing on his freshman release tells us anything, he has a lot of ideas to express.
We can also be glad that there is still an environment, a support network, where such talents are developed, especially in Tucson. The Tucson Jazz Institute, which is part of the Tucson Community Music School, continues to cultivate young aptitude. Max was part of the Tucson Jazz Institute ensemble that won the national 2010 Community Big Band Award in the Essentially Ellington competition adjudicated by Wynton Marsalis. Tucson isn’t exactly the first city you think of when you think of jazz, so this is quite an accomplishment.
Coming across precocious artists talent is always a delight. There is just somethign ethereal about hearing fully developed adult musical ideas come pouring out of an adolescent’s body. It’s the most precociousest experience.
Max Goldschmid is a kid like that. He started playing piano at age 6, took up trombone at age 9. He added trumpet to his list, then opened his arms still wider and (at the tender age of 11) started learning to play all the reeds – soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, clarinet, and, just for good measure, the bass clarinet.
For the past five years Goldschmid has held everyone’s attention by blowing free, working up his improvisation chops first at the Arizona Jazz Academy and now at the Tucson Jazz Institute. Not bad for a guy who hasn’t even started his senior year of high school.
“Max plays so effortlessly,” said TJI faculty member Scott Black. ”It’s like his ideas are coming directly from the Cosmos.”
While it isn’t likely the Cosmos will be directing Goldschmid’s career as a musician, the brilliant teen is already in that enviable position of being able to play pretty much whatever he wants. So… what will he play?
Knowing you never get a second chance to make a first impression, Goldschmid is pouring lots of thought into this, his first recording under his own name. Providing the canvas for this portrait are members of the TJI faculty and guest artists, as well as the city’s own Arizona Roadrunners.
This is the recording that, five years from now, some editor at Downbeat magazine will listen to thoughtfully, stroke his beard and write, “Even back in 2011 when Max Goldschmid was still a high school student, everyone could hear that he would grow up to become a monster player.”
To that end on these 10 tracks, Goldschmid has let the cosmos of jazz flow through his mind, body and fingers on all five of the reeds and both of the brass instruments. The styles he plays include New Orleans traditional, a couple of standards, bebop, straight ahead and some harsher atonal thoughts.
There are three original tunes, as well, with Goldschmid also happy to stake his claim on being a composer. But does he have a favorite instrument? Is he stronger on one than the others?
Listen carefully and decide for yourself. This being the 21st century and all, go to Goldschmid’s Facebook page and personally tell him what you think.
- Chuck Graham
Jazz Writer and Journalist