For innovative trumpeter Brad Goode, jazz has been a means for him to develop and express his own improvisational voice, without limiting himself to a single sound or style. On his new album, Chicago Red, Goode and a like-minded group of adventurous world-class musicians stretch out on eight Goode compositions—as well as “St. Louis Blues” and “Vesta La Giubba” from I Pagliacci—with strikingly original results. The CD, his second for Origin and 13th as a leader, will be released February 19.
Goode has been working on what he calls his Polytonal System of Harmony, which involves improvising over streams of simultaneous chord sequences, for the last 20 years. The music thrives on the pleasing dissonance created by, say, the guitarist playing chords at odds with the chords being played by the bassist. “It’s almost like two songs operating simultaneously,” says Goode. “The lower chords provide the basic progression, but there is also a logic in the way the upper structure chords relate and resolve to each other.”
Or, in the case of Goode’s coolly seductive use of polychords on W.C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues,” create their own sonic mood. “These chords aren’t what we’ve come to expect in jazz,” he says, “but after listening a while, the music makes sense, if the right people are playing it.”
The “right people” is how Goode would describe his ethnically diverse band on Chicago Red: Guitarist Bill Kopper and keyboardist Jeff Jenkins are back from Polytonal Dance Party, the 2008 Origin album on which Goode formally introduced the Polytonal System, to take their first-rate contributions a step further. They are joined by Brazilian bassist Bijoux Barbosa, whose mastery of Latin, jazz, and classical forms is right at home in this music; the remarkable Ghanaian drummer Paa Kow, who Goode says “plays the perfect groove”; and hand drummer Rony Barrak, from Beirut, Lebanon, who has revolutionized the tabla-like Darbouka, introducing the Arabic drum to Latin music as well as jazz, pop, and western classical.
“I was never thinking in terms of world music when I put the band together,” said the trumpeter. “I was drawn to each of these players because of their phenomenal talent. They nailed each song in one take.”
In his booklet notes, Goode discusses the “collaborative nature of the improvising” as something that differentiates jazz from most other art forms. “A musician may spend a great deal of time in preparation for the group experience,” he writes, “ . . . but this work can’t anticipate the surprise of the sound and feeling that will happen when a group is assembled. . . . My goal is to approach each performance without an agenda, reacting to the sound and ideas of the band, hoping that my own training will have prepared me to express something that is meaningful and musical within that specific moment.” The band on Chicago Red met those challenges—and then some.
Born and raised in Chicago, Brad Goode studied trumpet at the University of Kentucky, returning to Chicago to get his master’s degree in string bass from DePaul University and quickly becoming a regular on the club scene. From 1986 to 1997 he led his own group in Chicago, its members including saxophonists Lin Halliday and Ron Blake, pianists Jodie Christian and Ron Perrillo, guitarist Fareed Haque, trombonist Paul McKee, and drummer Dana Hall. The group often was augmented by Von Freeman and Ira Sullivan, and for 11 years appeared weekly at the Green Mill. Goode also toured with the bands of Jack DeJohnette, Curtis Fuller, Eddie Harris, and Ira Sullivan and with the Woody Herman Orchestra.
The trumpeter accepted a professorship at the University of Cincinnati in 1997 and moved to Boulder in 2004 to teach at the University of Colorado. In the tradition of his mentor Von Freeman, Goode leads weekly jam sessions for young musicians looking to learn their craft. Denver/Boulder has provided new musical directions and opportunities, from highlife to salsa, contemporary classical to jam bands. His reputation as a virtuoso trumpeter and as an educator keeps him quite active. Today, he is most often heard as a first trumpeter in big bands and symphony orchestras, and small group jazz appearances are rare. He is planning a series of dates in support of Chicago Red, including a CD release show at Dazzle, Denver, 3/22. Goode will also appear with his Quartet at the Green Mill in Chicago, 3/8-9.