Alex Goodman – Second Act – Lyte Records LR040 73:00 ***:

An appealing sample of Goodman’s goodies

( Alex Goodman – guitar; Matt Marantz – saxophone; Eden Ladin – piano/Fender Rhodes; Rick Rosato – bass; Jimmy MacBride – drums; Felicity Williams & Alex Samaras – vocals tracks 5-8, 10,11 )

Guitarist Alex Goodman is a Toronto Canada native who is following on a stellar line of Toronto guitarists such as Ed Bickert, Lorne Lofsky, Reg Schwager and Lenny Breau ( a transplanted American) all of whom made names for themselves internationally. Goodman ,who now resides in New York City, has recorded Second Act, that chronicles happenings in the life of a jazz musician living in New York.

As tends to be the case with most young musicians these days, all of the compositions on this release were composed by Goodman. Additionally he has brought together a supporting  cast of first rate players and improvisors and who collaborate in every sense of the word. Furthermore there are two other Canadians who are added to the mix as singers, namely Felicity Williams and Alex Samaras and they intertwine wordless vocals on several of the tracks.

The opening track is entitled “Questions” and it is an energetic  swinger led  by Rosato’s hard bass lines. Goodman demonstrates that he is a fleet-fingered improvisor and that pianist Eden Ladin knows his way around the keyboard. “The First Break” is driven by some intense rhythmic drumming from Jimmy McBride, as Goodman layers his jagged guitar over the McBride’s drumming.

“Losing Cool”  is supposed to begin a series of tracks wherein Goodman’s vocal writing is featured. However the vocals do not appear in any form, and while pianist Ladin and saxophonist Marantz are generously featured, Goodman is mostly absent apart from a few minor interjections. Producer Goodman dropped the ball on this track.

Moving on to “Welcome To NewYork”,  Ladin’s Fender Rhodes and Goodman’s guitar play off each other as they utter oblique phrases and sly harmonies without a story being told. The session closes with “Acrobat” that has a tender welcoming outcome. Ladin is on Fender Rhodes using the instruments upper register, and Goodman runs the fretboard with imaginative versatility.

For those readers who live in and around the Toronto,Ontario area, Alex Goodman and his band will be performing at The Rex Jazz and Blues Bar on June 23,2017 at 8:00pm. This performance is part of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival. Drop by and say hello.

The First Break
Losing Cool Introduction
Losing Cool
Welcome To New York

—Pierre Giroux