1. Tight Like This
4. Reaching for the Moon
5. Reverse the Charges
7. Midwestern Autumn
8. Climbing Out
9. The River
10. Bob's Bounce
11. Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise
Brad Goode - Trumpet
Adrean Farrugia - Piano
Kelly Sill - Bass
Anthony Lee - Drums
Having already reviewed two Brad Goode albums on this website and commended them both, I don't want to repeat myself, but I may have to. Basically this is as good as his CDs Hypnotic Suggestion and Nature Boy, both on the Delmark label. What surprises me is that Brad still appears to be nowhere as well-known as he deserves to be. He seems to be celebrated among fellow trumpeters but much of the wider jazz public is apparently unaware of his considerable talents.
This CD debuts his "new quartet", although the pianist and bassist are the same as on Hypnotic Suggestion. Brad says that his rhythm section can play "any way you want it - straight up, broken time, abstract, swinging, funky, intense, mellow, serious, funny - which is exactly how I like it". This album proves him right, as he is backed with superb empathy by pianist Adrean Farrugia and bassist Kelly Sill. Brooklyn-based drummer Anthony Lee is also pretty good, although he sometimes supplies backings that don't quite fit in - for example, when he uses those snaredrum rim clicks which increasingly mar some recordings.
This album is a mixture of five originals by Goode and six tunes by others. Three of the "other" numbers are tributes to trumpeters. The title-track clearly pays homage to Louis Armstrong, who famously recorded Tight Like This with his Hot Five in 1929. But Brad transforms the tune into something new, as he does with most jazz standards, with a jazz-rock pulse from the drums, a blues-drenched piano solo and a soulful trumpet solo which goes stratospheric - all making the tune sound very modern.
Changes was a feature for Bix Beiderbecke with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in 1927. Brad keeps the zigzag effect of the original melody but again makes it sound modern, with both piano and trumpet, somehow interweaving near-abstraction into this old tune. It beautifully illustrates Brad's previously stated aim of "working with elements of abstraction within standard forms".
The next three items might be called "standards" except that they are not widely known or played. You may feel you have heard Nightingale before, as it's an alluring Latin-American tune, on which Brad Goode's muted trumpet reminds me very much of Dizzy Gillespie in the 1960s. In this and the preceding number, Brad ends on miraculously long-held notes. Reaching for the Moon is an Irving Berlin composition from the 1931 film of the same name - another edgy piece which zigzags and allows the improvisers to wander near the edge of freedom. By contrast, Reverse the Charges (a tune by trumpeter Freddie Webster, one of Brad's heroes) is a comparatively straightforward (and quite catchy) number. Here and elsewhere, bassist Kelly Sill gets the chance to display his dexterity and invention.
The next five tracks are originals by Brad Goode. These are all extremely listenable but perhaps the most impressive is Climbing Out, where Brad exhibits a whole range of devices, showing what an accomplished player he is. Summary and Midwestern Autumn disclose another side to Goode as a composer. Both are gentle ballads: the former in waltz time which still lets Brad set off musical fireworks in double tempo; the latter a wistful piece which cools down the heat. Bob's Bounce is what it says on the tin: a bouncy tune dedicated to Delmark Records' founder Bob Koester.
The CD ends with Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise, a tune I have come to dislike because it is so often a chance for mediocre playing by jazz groups. Yet Brad's quartet rejuvenates it by altering its make-up and taking a host of liberties with it.
Perhaps Brad Goode is still not famous because he has devoted himself to teaching at the University of Colorado and resisted the temptation to move to New York. But he says that "With this great quartet, I hope to return to performing creative jazz on a more regular basis. I feel ready".
He's more than ready: he's ahead of the game.