Believe it or not‚ there are still jazz fans that long for those fabulous '70s‚ when "old people's music" was literally blown off the stage by Jazz Fusion pioneers packing guitars and synthesizers. Richie Goods is one of those yearning "neo-purists‚" only he's done something personal about it.
Now‚ we're talking Music For Sports Arenas here‚ and that doesn't always translate to small spaces like Greenwich Village's Zinc Bar; what's more‚ Goods' own compositions travel the same vein Return To Forever and Herbie Hancock's Head Hunters used to pump full of fire. But Goods‚ a faithful disciple of bass monster Marcus Miller‚ had an unambiguous vision for Nuclear Fusion‚ and "dialing it down" wasn't part of it.
Wayne Shorter's "Elegant People" may start out "soft‚" but the Weather Report standard gets frenetic in a big hurry. The road gets potentially rougher from there‚ with Goods' quartet launching into a nasty take on Lenny White's "Sorceress." Anyone walking into the club at that moment probably thought they'd been transported back to the days of Nixon‚ bell bottoms‚ and horrifically high gas prices. (Okay‚ forget that last one…)
Given Goods' admiration for Head Hunters‚ it was a major coup to recruit Mike Clark‚ the drummer on the Hunters' second album‚ Thrust. Clark rocks Old School Fusion throughout Zinc Bar‚ but he also infuses Goods' "King Jaffe Joffer" with a Galactic-like Second Line vibe. Goods loves how Berklee buddy Jeff Lockhart "makes his guitar talk Funk‚" which it does fluently on Antonio Newman's "Snake Oil." Given her exclusive acoustic-jazz background‚ keyboardist Helen Sung was Goods' only personnel crapshoot; while her synth lines won't make anyone forget Joe Zawinul‚ her Fender Rhodes work on "Sorceress" and Goods' "Desert Song" is excellent.
Goods is no Jaco‚ but he's not Michael Henderson‚ either: He laces Hancock tunes "Sly" and "Palm Grease" with inspired flourishes‚ and his mesmerizing intro to "Desert Song" wouldn't have been out-of-place in an LA Forum spotlight. However‚ the extended version of "Desert" that closes Zinc Bar is made unnecessary by the tighter‚ sharper take earlier in the disc. Besides‚ if Goods thought he needed more music‚ wasn't there something from Spectrum or Birds of Fire they could have covered?