With a fat, rich tone somewhere between French classical trumpeter Maurice André and the flugelhorn of Chuck Mangione, Brad Goode has the ultimate calling card for a jazz player: An immediately recognizable sound. The fact that he's also got an upper register to rival Maynard Ferguson makes Goode one of the most underknown of jazz players.
Joined by the great Ernie Watts on tenor sax, and a solid rhythm section of Adrean Farrugia (piano), Kelly Sill (bass) and Adam Nussbaum (drums), Goode shows himself absolute master of the trumpet on That's Right!, with a consistent tone and astounding range.
What holds him back is a lack of top-flight songs. Goode included compositions by every player on this outing, but outside the opening track, it is covers (the Harold Arlen chestnut "Blues in the Night" and Billy Eckstine's "I Want to Talk About You") that provide the strongest vehicles for Goode and Co. to show off their talents. For the most part, the original compositions are lacking in memorable themes on which to build an improvisation.
On "Blues in the Night," Goode shows off his skill with a mute, achieving a classic swing feel—sounding like nothing so much as an after-hours jam session circa 1945 for the opening chorus. His subsequent improvisation is firmly in a modern, post-bop mode structurally, while maintaining the tonality of a big band player. Watts' following solo maintains this interesting dichotomy of classic jazz sound coupled to a very modern deconstruction of the theme. The two horn players then team up to revisit the theme in chorus before trading fours, and then breaking it down even further, sharing the lead atop each other. The fade-out is a bit of a disappointing end to a fabulous performance, though.
"I Want to Talk About You" finds the mute back in Goode's horn, but with more of a Miles Davis-inflected approach. Introspective and restrained, it's some of Goode's loveliest playing on this outing. He caresses each note, playing his trumpet almost like a tenor sax atop gentle comping from the rhythm section.
Of the originals, only Farrugia's "Half Moon" is likely to stick in your head. After Farrugia's chordal opening, Goode breaks it open with a bright, upper-register fanfare so fat, so rich in tone that it sounds like a flugelhorn. Watts then expands on the theme incrementally, never straying too far from Farrugia's luscious melody, before Goode and Farrugia rejoin for a lovely series of solos and choruses.
"Perplexity," which Neil Tesser's liner notes indicate is Goode's personal favorite track on the release, starts off promising with an interesting opening motif. But Goode's main theme isn't strong enough to hold the song together through the band's numerous interpolations and re-imaginings. Another Goode original, "Who Parked the Car?," has a more ambitious and more memorable melody—although after a bright opening, Farrugia basically abandons that theme during an extended solo.
Sill's "A Sense of Fairness" opens with Goode and Watts taking shared lead in harmony, before Sill expounds on the theme with a lengthy bass solo backed by Farrugia on piano. Again, the challenge for the listener is that there is no hook on which to hang our attention. Nussbaum's "We Three" feels similarly cramped by lack of an immediate theme. Even Watts' "Letter From Home," which debuted on his 2016 release "Wheel of Time," is what in the rock world would be described as a "filler" track.
Maybe the most interesting track here is the closing "Jug Ain't Gone," written by the late Von Freeman as a tribute to fellow tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons. It again finds Goode playing his trumpet more like a saxophone - more athletic than muscular, lithe rather than aggressive. Farrugia's solo here shows more fealty to the theme than on the other tracks, and Watts' own extended breakout on tenor is a splendid homage to both Ammons and Freeman.