Album Review: The Goods Project – My Left Hand Man
The Goods Project
My Left Hand Man
UK listeners may not be familiar with Richie Goods’ name, and more shame them, as he’s amassed a truly remarkable CV that includes work with everyone from Milt Jackson, Russell Malone, Vincent Herring, the Manhattan Transfer and Walter Beasley to Brian McKnight, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Whitney Houston Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys. As his own bio puts it, music is the fulfilment of Richie’s destiny, and listening to his assured playing on both upright and electric bass at the head of his high-octane fusion band it’s hard to disagree. This album explores the legacy of one of his formative influences: doyenne of mainstream pianists Mulgrew Miller, with whom Good played for a remarkable nine years, and who originated the nickname that forms the album’s title. Miller commands respect not only for the vigour and originality of his playing, but also for his commitment to the cause of mainstream jazz at a time when its stock was lower than it is today: but Good has chosen to commemorate his legacy by re-working his ex-boss’ compositions into a contemporary fusion template. At best, as on Eastern Joy Dance and compelling, acoustic bass-driven Know Wonder, the results are fresh and invigorating: the latter tune especially evoking comparisons with the acoustic Return To Forever cuts in its driving energy. Tracks like the Rhodes and wah-wah laden Farewell To Dogma and the vocal-led Second Thoughts devolve into a pleasant but unremarkable smooth-jazz which may or may not engage fans of Mulgrew. Throughout the band’s playing is as uniformly superb as you would expect from such an accomplished cohort: Goods and Roberts create some impeccable pockets: there are string arrangements from Geoffrey Keezer on Song For Darnell; Goods and co show off their acoustic jazz chops on The Sequel and everyone sounds like they are having a lot of fun.