Thursday, May 26, 2016

Alex Goodman, Border Crossing

What does one say after one has said everything? I don't know, since I have NOT said everything and no doubt never quite will. On the other hand one (or me anyway) has the challenge to remain fresh, to cover music 15 times a week and say something worthwhile about it all. When the music is good, as generally it is or I would not cover it on these pages, it suggests words to you as you hear it. That is so with the album of Canadian guitar jazz by Alex Goodman, Border Crossing (OA2 Records 22131).

This is some very accomplished and beautifully serene music that owes something to Brazilian saudade classics, yet clearly is in the contemporary northern jazz camp. Alex shines forth on electric and acoustic guitar in a program of originals plus an adaptation of something by Mozart and a standard by Bricusse and Newman  ("Pure Imagination").

Key to all this are the nicely expressive vocals of Felicity Williams, who gives us wordless ensemble vocals and well wrought phrasings of the song fare here. Key also is the vibraphone work of Michael Davidson, whose sound and approach permeates the ensemble sound and gives it distinction. Andrew Downing adds color and bottom on cello and bass; Rogerio Boccato plays some appropriate percussion and drummer Fabio Ragnelli brings his drumming prowess into three of the seven numbers.

Throughout Alex plays interesting guitar that shows facility and an original sense of taste, laid back but substantial.

In many ways Felicity steals the show with a clear and pure-toned post-Gilberto clarion tenderness that sets the mood and makes Alex's guitar entrances all the more dramatic.

It is one of those albums that is filled with musical content for the sharp ears out there, yet will please lots of folks who are less exacting.


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