By: Vince Lewis
Canadian guitarist and composer Alex Goodman has released three CDs as a leader. He completed his Bachelor of Jazz Performance degree at the University of Toronto, where he was honored as the first jazz musician to receive the William and Phyllis Waters graduating Award. The award goes to the student deemed to have the greatest potential to make an important contribution to the field of music.
Goodman has penned over 100 compositions and two award-winning film scores. He has toured extensively, and appeared at the Kennedy Center, Massey Hall and the CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio, also having received support from the Canada Council for the Arts. In his press release, his music is “modern jazz that incorporates classical textures, contrapuntal writing, Baroque vocabulary, Impressionism and 20th Century composition. [It's] original material as well as arrangements of classical pieces by composers such as Bartok and Chopin.”
The majority of the music on this recording is original material penned by Goodman. “Checklist” begins the album and starts with a nice arpeggiated solo guitar entrance. The band joins in with a sax and guitar melody statement with heavily syncopated rhythm accompaniment. The unison sections are well executed, and the somewhat sparse chordal comping leaves quite a bit of room for the pretty free solo sections. “Spider Treaty” is introduced by a very pretty solo piano performance by Darcy Myronuk. Goodman then enters and states the melody in octaves. The tune evolves into a funk feel developing into a floating, ethereal theme. “Magic Bullet” is a contrapuntal melody played by guitar and sax which shows the classical influences upon the compositions well.
The two non-original selections are “Nocturne in Eb Major, Op.9, No.2” by Chopin, and “Dance in Bulgarian Rhythm No. 1” by Bela Bartok. Each of these is arranged by Goodman and given a more contemporary treatment. “Nocturne in Eb” is played as a jazz waltz, and the chordal choices are more contemporary than the original.
The remainder of the group is comprised of Nick Morgan (woodwinds), Dan Fortin (bass) and Maxwell Roach (drums). Each is an accomplished player and plays an equal role in producing the overall effectiveness of the music.
This album reminds me quite a bit of the Modern Jazz Quartet in that the music is very structured and formulated, and the compositions are interesting and enjoyable to hear. Goodman has excellent technique and a full, rich guitar tone and a definite unique musical voice. Listeners with a penchant for the classical attributes of chamber jazz will find this interesting stuff.