Drummer-composer Sofia Goodman
pursues an increasingly sophisticated and multidimensional vision with the July 14 release of Secrets of the Shore
on Joyous Records. The Nashville-based Goodman’s sophomore album with her eponymous Group (trumpeter Matt White, trombonist Roy Agee, saxophonists Joel Frahm and Dan Hitchcock, clarinetist Max Dvorin, keyboardist Alex Murphy, guitarist Rheal Janelle, bassist Leland Nelson and percussionist Carlos Duran) finds her changing direction from the jazz-funk fusion of her debut album—though still retaining aspects of that style—and exploring thoughtful and often tender post-bop.
That exploration encompasses a diversity of styles, grooves, emotions, and compositional and improvisational shapes across the album’s ten original tunes. But it also includes a remarkable, expansive new approach to colors and textural possibilities, not least on Goodman’s drum kit. It’s a tremendous leap forward from her 2018 debut, Myriad of Flowers
“My first album was such a learning experience,” Goodman says. “This time I was much more prepared in terms of what I should do and how my music should be. As I worked on Secrets of the Shore
, I cared about how I felt as it was happening.”
A concept album about water and its many guises, Secrets of the Shore
suitably washes over the listener in waves that are alternately placid (“Siren Song”), enigmatic (“Alberto’s Dreamland”), foreboding (“Buried Treasures”), and tempestuous (“In Barbara’s Mist”)—sometimes in sudden and violent shifts (the complex closing track “Angel”). It also boasts watery sonic details, such the gentle ripples of piano and cymbal on “Shadows on the Sand” and the crystalline droplets of saxophone and Fender Rhodes on “Skipping Stones.”
Importantly, these offerings of detail and mood depend on heavy lifting from the entire Sofia Goodman Group. Each element, from Nelson’s slippery electric bass, to White and Agee’s declaratory brasses, to Frahm and Hitchcock’s sinewy (and sinuous) sax lines, has a vital contribution to realizing Goodman’s music. Still, it’s never hard to detect the leader’s hand, be it her smart writing or her versatile drumming, ultimately guiding Secrets of the Shore
Sofia Goodman was born in 1987 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she was adopted as an infant. She began taking piano lessons in elementary school, but an encounter with a young friend’s drum kit reoriented her musical interests. Initially that meant blues, rock, and punk, reflecting a teenage defiance that she took with her to Berklee College of Music in Boston. While still in high school, Sofia attended a summer workshop at Berklee taught by Esperanza Spalding, then one of the youngest teachers ever to work at the school. Spalding’s encouragement inspired Sofia to take private lessons with Berklee faculty member Jackie Santos, and to return to Berklee for further studies.
After a somewhat turbulent period of relocation and readjustment, however, she found solace in exploring singing and composing at the piano. Time spent outside of the practice rooms at Berklee was typically spent at Wally’s Café, the beloved South Boston jazz club that is a proving ground for the city’s music students.
Not long after graduating from Berklee with a degree in Drum Set Performance, Goodman’s Boston apartment was decimated by fire. Fate, and some friends, drew her to Nashville, Tennessee, the country music mecca that also nourishes a rich jazz scene. What Goodman thought was a short-term summer residence developed into more than a decade of enthusiastic embrace of, and by, the community of artists that make up the aptly styled Music City.
Goodman plied her skills with musicians of all stripes, at the same time studying composition for a master’s degree from Belmont University. It was only a short time before she was ready to form her own band. Those early efforts would evolve into what is now The Sofia Goodman Group, building a following throughout the South and into the Midwest. Her first album, 2018’s Myriad of Flowers
, received a nomination for Best Jazz Album from the Nashville Industry Music Awards. Secrets of the Shore
is the Goodman Group’s follow-up to that acclaimed debut.
“Goodman’s work strives for lofty goals, takes big musical risks and aspires for the freedom to manifest itself fully,” wrote Sean L. Maloney last year in the Nashville Scene
. “It is truly progressive and fundamentally jazz—and a reason to be excited about the continuing evolution of jazz in Music City.”
Upcoming shows by The Sofia Goodman Group include: Fri 6/23 Taggart Amphitheater, Indianapolis (7:30-9pm); Sat 6/24 Elkhart (IN) Jazz Festival (3-4:15pm); Fri 7/14 Nashville Jazz Workshop (7:30-9pm); Thurs 7/20 Dogwood Amphitheater, Cookeville, TN (7:30-9pm); Wed 7/26 Rudy’s Jazz Room, Nashville (6-8:15pm); and Mon 8/7 Analog, Nashville.