Since Brad Goode left Chicago a few years back, he's been on a tear, recording three CD's in three years. His latest, on Origin Records, is by far the best of the bunch. Finally, with the aid of a band willing to play his tunes the way that he wanted to write them, Goode can be heard in a whole new light. And in a light that takes him from being "another good trumpeter" to being in a class all his own.
Polytonal Dance Party is a fantastic album with a ridiculously heady premise: all of the songs on here are based on polychords. In other words, two chords played at once. And because Goode is a top notch player and instructor, he doesn't do this with easily balanced chords, he does this with chords that shouldn't at all work together, unless you're a harmonic genius. Which Goode obviously is.
I'll eschew the technical speak here, and just comment on the music. The musicians that read this probably already know what Brad's up to and don't need it explained, and the "civilians" who read this won't care.
What really stands out to me is how fresh so much of this album sounds. Goode sounds liberated throughout, and his band ably rips through these obviously difficult songs. Giving more modern feels to many of the tunes on here really makes this album much more than the technical exercise album that this could have become far too quickly.
The CD starts off on a great note with Encryption. Sporting an effects laden guitar and a Rhodes being run through a wah wah pedal, it's obvious pretty quick that this isn't jazz for the cocktail crowd. The spacey sounds continue on Background Theme of Life. I also have to add that it was wise for Goode to bring in the Rhodes on these tracks with all of this harmonic trickery going on, because the comping going on here sounds downright otherworldly as played on the electric keys by Jeff Jenkins, giving the Rhodes infused songs a really nice feel and flavor.
While everything on here sounds good, the original songs on here really do fare best. Without having to conform to a preexisting melody, Goode is able to shape his own tunes at his own whim, and the results are spectacular.
Frankly, none of Goode's prior efforts could possibly prepare you for the possibility that Polytonal Dance Party was up his sleeve. His last two for Delmark were nice discs that I really enjoyed. His discs for Steeplechase were also fun to listen to. But Polytonal Dance Party gets everything right: great melodies, intriguing harmonies interesting textures and cool rhythms. If you're a fan of the recent work of Dave Douglas or Chris Potter, you might very well find yourself really loving Polytonal Dance Party. I know I am.