Eric Goletz begins A New Light with a forty second prelude, ‘Before The Light’, before launching in with the album’s title track, a high energy, toe tapping big band sound which has the vibrancy sucked out of it when Goletz joins in with his repeating phrase trombone sound. It is only later in the tune that I get to hear a more articulate sound that gives me some indication as to what type of player Eric Goletz is. The guitar solo from Henry Heinitsh gives a strong indication that this album will be veering into jazz fusion territory. The horns and percussion on this number are strong throughout and the tune is undoubtedly more rewarding in its second half.
The jazz fusion sound is more prominent in the opening bars of ‘Edge of The Night’ but quickly fades to be replaced by the ostinato of the trombone. At points this tune had a 70s TV cop show vibe to it with its driving beat and use of jazz/rock guitar. As with the title track this number got stronger as the track progressed. ‘Dig’, written by Miles Davis, is given an up-tempo Afro-Cuban and is, for me, the stand-out track of the album. The piano solo of Jim Ridl is a breath of fresh air and Randy Brecker on trumpet plays crisp tuneful notes with space to allow the melody to be heard. There is also some nice percussion work from Joe Mowatt to enjoy along with the phrase trading between trombone, trumpet, and piano towards the end of the track.
‘Enchanted’ brings the tempo to slow and is described in the press release as a romantic number. The trombone playing benefits from the measure at which this tune moves and by that I mean that what is played is given time to be heard. The strings provide a good backdrop to the lead instrument and this tune keeps on the right side of romantic without being saccharine. ‘Greene Street Groove’ is a mid-tempo bluesy funk number with good soloing from Goletz, Brecker, and Ridl – I do like the supporting role from the horn section that fills out the sound without overwhelming it.
The tune ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ is taken from the film ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and is a song reflecting on the passing of time. The press pack states that ‘Goletz manages to keep the nostalgic tender quality of ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ while featuring a rock guitar solo by Heinitsh’. For me the press pack has got this wrong, the guitar solo is completely out of place in this number no matter how well played that solo might be. ‘Song For Elizabeth’ is described as a love song and I think Elizabeth would be happy to have had this written for her. As with ‘Enchanted’ the strings arrangements are spot on in that they support the trombone of Goletz without at any time detracting from, or overwhelming his playing.
‘Don’t Gimme That’ features a wonderful solo from Allen Farnham on keyboards. There are also solos from Goletz and Brecker on this well-written and well-played tune. It is Brecker’s playing that brings the light to this tune and helped me understand what it is about this album that troubled me from my initial listen through, but I shall return to this point in the review’s conclusion.
‘The Mirror’ kicks off in a jazz funk groove with a strong bass line from Marco Panascia. The guitar line of Henry Heinitsh brings in a rock edge without taking away from the central melodic line, helped by the accompaniment of Jim Ridl’s piano. There is a good use of tonal colour variations in this number, which make it one of the more interesting album tracks in terms of the way that it is composed. The album finishes with a postlude ‘After The Light’, which wraps up the album with melodies and themes from all the other tunes on it: essentially an overture, which would have been better placed at the start of the album – in my opinion.
I should like to point out that I like the trombone in jazz music but there was something about this album that, as I have already said, troubled me and that is Eric Goltez’s sound. To me it did not have a clarity of tone: it did, at times, sound “muddy”. When Randy Brecker played the notes were clear, bright they were played with purpose. When Goletz played at a slower tempo he too was clear but there were times I felt that it was a case of technique over substance: playing at speed the notes slurred leaving me, as the listener, losing the melody in a musical fog.
There are some good tracks on this album, but it is the final paragraph of the press release pack that highlights its shortcomings:
Goletz’s arrangements are unique. With his solid chops as a musician and decades of working as a composer and arranger in a wide variety of musical venues and situations, it’s no wonder that his music is overflowing with a macrocosm of ideas. You can almost feel his rush of joy as he picks up his pen to get it all on paper.
There are too many ideas on this album for it to work effectively as a whole, which is a shame because where Eric Goltez gets it right it works very well but where he gets it wrong … I just want to press the forward button on the CD player.
Eric Goletz – trombone, keyboards; Randy Brecker – trumpet, flugelhorn; Jim Ridl – piano; Allen Farnham – keyboards; Henry Heinitsh – guitar; Marco Panascia – bass; Steve Johns – drums; Joe Mowatt percussion
- Trumpets: Tony Gorruso, Freddie Maxwell Kent Smith
- French Horn: Will DeVos
- Alto Sax: Bob Magnuson
- Trombones: Erick Storckman, Chris Rinaman
- Bass Trombone: Jonathan Greenberg
- Tuba: Matt Ingman
- Violins: Robin Zeh, Paul Woodiel
- Violas: Michael Roth, David Gold
- Cello: Sarah Hewitt-Roth
1. Prelude: Before The Light. 2. A New Light. 3. Edge Of The Night. 4. Dig. 5. Enchanted. 6. Greene Street Groove. 7. Sunrise, Sunset. 8. Song For Elizabeth. 9. Don’t Gimme That. 10. The Mirror. 11. Postlude: After The Light.
All compositions by Eric Goletz except:
Dig (M. Davis), Sunrise, Sunset (Bock/Harnick), and Song for Elizabeth (J. Butler) All arrangements by Eric Goletz