The first collaboration between trumpeter Brad Goode
and saxophonist Ernie Watts
is a case study in superior musicianship and improvisation. It also illustrates how two frontline performers and their supporting band can achieve excellence as a creative ensemble.
The kickoff, "Half Moon," an original from pianist Adrean Farrugia
, is reminiscent of the popular work of Chuck Mangione
. Goode states the theme and chases all the clouds away before Watts enters to echo the theme and stretch out over the rhythm section. Goode's original, "Regret" is a morose statement over a three-note motif that's a nod to Charles Mingus
' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" than anything. His solo here has Miles Davis
' ornamentation all over it.
Both Goode and Watts have strong roots in the jazz tradition. Goode, a Chi-towner who is a standout in both small and large ensembles, was mentored by the likes of Von Freeman
, Red Rodney
, and Clark Terry
. Watts, with Wilmington/Philly roots, has paid dues in big bands (with Buddy Rich
and Doc Severinsen
's various units), also with Charlie Haden
's West Coast group, and for decades in the LA studios. These two cats are feral phenoms and true sonic explorers. Each displays seemingly effortless masteryawesome technique, highly-innovative boundary-pushing solos, and an obvious willingness to creatively give and take. They and the ensemble are all simpatico
"Perplexity" is an up-tempo polytonal exploration with its tendrils curled in Fats Navarro
-like bop. However, it is rendered frantic as if on steroids. "Blues in the Night" has Goode plunging its theme a la the aforementioned Clark Terry and has Watts spewing soul. Bassist Kelly Sill
's "A Sense of Fairness" is a triple-metered dance. Sill and Farrugia offer terrific solos there. Watts' "Letter from Home" has a siren-calling exotic theme. "We Three" from Adam Nussbaum
(who cooks across the entire date) is a slow, textured soundscape. "Who Parked the Car" offers a quirky, toot-toot, straight-ahead melody with "Giant Steps"-type harmonic resolutions. Billy Eckstine
's "I Want to Talk About You," a Goode showcase, is deivered through his Harmon-muted horn. It is a gorgeously played track. Von Freeman's "Jug Ain't Gone" references Gene Ammons
and is a cooking closer. That's Right!
is about as perfect a musical pairing as one can get59 minutes of superb tunes, outstanding playing and killer musicianship. A terrific album.