Cadence Magazine review by Jason Bivins

CF 133Darren Johnston – The Edge of the Forest (CF 133)
The tight charts and pert rhythmic playfulness of “The Edge of the Forest” recall a Philip Johnston session in some ways. Namesake Darren has a catholic approach to his instrument, brash mute work here, tiny chirrups there, bold lines amidst it all. In his range, he recalls Herb Robertson, and also in his puckishness—check out his flatulent statement to begin “Broken” (flatulent is good, in case you’re wondering). While the leader is a pleasure to listen to, it’s also always a delight to hear Goldberg in this kind of Free Bop setting. The three-horn line (with the resourceful Brown) kills throughout, sometimes in punchy little groupings (the opener) and sometimes in wild untethered sections (amidst the funk of “Broken”). A constant to this session is the band’s freedom with tempo, even as Hoff and Dobson are winningly crisp (think Pavone/Sarin in a lot of ways). But regardless of the flexibility of the group sound, the charts stand out too with their winking blend of Herbie Nichols, Raymond Scott, and Lacy. There’s some gorgeous work from Hoff in a duet with Goldberg on the bottom-heavy “Foggy,” whose nicely melancholy accordion hints at European folk forms. The same is true of the quizzical “Cabin 5,” whose staggered pulse and buoy-ant character suggest a Breuker influence (a trumpet/tenor line both sassy and understated lolls along gently, as Goldberg rides the pulse). They pull back on the dark-hued “Edge of the Forest” and the intense closer, but overall it’s a disc filled with energy, invention, and humor.
©Cadence Magazine 2009

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