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Alex GOODMAN

Second Act

LYTE RECORDS LR040 [72:07]

 

 

 

Questions

The First Break

Departure

Losing Cool Introduction

Losing Cool

Empty

Heightened

Sharon

Welcome To New York

Apprehension

Acrobat

Alex Goodman (guitar): Matt Marantz (saxophone): Eden Ladin (piano): Rick Rosato (bass): Jimmy Macbride (drums): Felicity Williams and Alex Samaras (vocals)

Recorded Canterbury Studios, Toronto

 

There are no standards in this eleven-track disc from Canadian guitarist Alex Goodman: they’re all his own compositions. His fine band is both purposeful and relaxed, its rhythmic playing encompassing both requirements on Questions, where Matt Marantz’s easy-going sax swings deftly and where the occasionally angular musings of pianist Eden Ladin are propelled by the drums of Jimmy MacBride. Goodman himself makes a first-class impression, being deft and delicate but in no way winsome. In addition, Eden’s use of the Rhodes and Lowery, an electronic organ, add another layer of colour to the ensemble sound.

Empty is a tune that defies its title; it has a catchy theme with rock solid bass from Rick Rosato, cooking drums and a sure sense of direction. Not all Goodman’s themes are as consistently developed as this nor as universally compelling but he has the knack for strong themes and for allowing his confrères plenty of space to show their musical wares; a case in point here where Marantz generates a fulsome open air feel. On several tracks vocalists Felicity Williams and Alex Samaras offer largely vocalese, generating another layer of sonic interest.

Sharon is one of the set’s real highpoints. Opening romantically, even wistfully, it soon picks up speed, spurred on by percussion and nice rhythmic patterns, sonically diverting throughout. Marantz offers a few funky turns of phrase into the bargain. Welcome to New York reveals Goodman’s dextrous articulation as well as his thoughtful chording. In Acrobat, there’s a musette-like feel to Ladin’s keyboard work that is appealing and if, in the final resort the vocalised backing can pall somewhat throughout the course of six tracks, it does hit the mark more than not.

There’s nothing either ground-breaking or grandstanding here, just technical excellence and a fine feel for colour, texture and themes. This tight band has made a good recording and I’d like to hear how they approach standards.

Jonathan Woolf

 


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