ERIC GOLETZ — Standard-ized (review)

ERIC GOLETZ — Standard-ized album cover Album · 2023 · Hard Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
After working as a sideman and session musician for 30 years, trombonist Eric Goletz has, for the last three years, been putting out a new album as leader every year, which brings us to 2023’s, “Standard-ized”. Whereas Eric’s earlier efforts focused on original music, this new one, as if you could not tell from the title, features standards, with many arranged in different styles than you may have heard them before. There are a variety of ensembles at work here as well, ranging from trios to septets, with some selections featuring a string quartet.

I get the feeling Eric was working on a more contemporary radio friendly approach on his new album when circumstances pushed things in a different direction. Apparently Eric and his group had been given a casual cocktail gig on which they decided to just have fun playing songs that they knew well. It’s what musicians call a ‘blowing session’, playing freely on songs that they are very comfortable with and having rambunctious fun doing it. So successful was this gig that they decided to record a demo to score similar jobs and so successful was this recording session that they decided to return and record even more tunes. The end result is an album that is about one half blowing session, and about one half radio friendly ballads which are often backed by the string quartet and led by vocalist Lajuan Carter.

For my money, the best part of this CD is the high flying bop numbers like “Mayreh”, “Just in Time” and “Nutville”. On these the band sounds loose and relaxed, On first listen I thought these tunes were being played live, and apparently a lot of them were unrehearsed first takes in the studio. There are also a couple soul jazz groove tracks that bear a similar energy. Of the ballads, the best is Eric, backed only with bass and drums, playing Stevie Wonder’s sublime “Overjoyed”. This is an album of standards and fortunately they picked a lot of tunes that have not been overplayed, but there are also a couple tracks on here that some of us have probably heard a few too many times.
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