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Last Call Review: Richie Goods & The Goods Project/My Left Hand Man/Independent Release
Bassist Richie Goods, a bandleader, total professional on the bass, and producer, has recently released My Left Hand Man. It's a tribute to Mulgrew Miller, and a reference to how Miller referred to Goods as his "left hand man"-comparing his role as a bassist to the role of the left hand which plays bass lines on the piano.
The session itself is hard to resist, and flows together perfectly. Goods features songs composed by Miller with the exception of one song, "The Left Hand Man", that the bassist wrote. Highlights of the date include the animated opener of "Eastern Joy Dance" that prominently features Goods on the upright bass. There is also the relentless energy of "Know Wonder" that easily recalls Return to Forever's best 1970s recordings. And on "Farewell to Dogma" Gregoire Maret contributes his mastery of the harmonica to this mesmerizing tune. The session closes with a spirited performance of a Mulgrew Miller original, "The Sequel".
Mulgrew Miller was a great pianist, composer, bandleader and educator who was a mentor to many jazz students and young players. Richie Goods was one of them, and he recorded and performed with Mulgrew Miller for nine years. Goods has gone on to work with many of the luminaries of today's Jazz scene including Russell Malone, Louis Hayes, Lenny White, the Manhattan Transfer, the Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band and many more. In addition, Goods is a total professional on the upright and electric bass, and has been leading his own band and creating a series of compelling recordings including this latest project.
Richie Goods, on electric and acoustic bass, is joined by Lil John Roberts on drums, Shedrick Mitchell and Mike King on piano and keyboards, Tariqh Akoni and David Rosenthal on guitars, Gregoire Maret on harmonica on "Farewell to Dogma", and others.
Richie Goods: "In my neighborhood, it was all about the bass. It was all about Bootsy Collins and Louis Johnson"
The Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys bassist on Mulgrew Miller's influence, tracking live, and how he became a 12-hour-a-day bass fanatic.
Bassist and bandleader Richie Goods has played with a stellar cast of stars including Alicia Keys, Common, Whitney Houston, Lenny White, Christina Aguilera, and many others. Prolific and gifted, Goods returns with a new album, My Left Hand Man, in honor of his late mentor, pianist Mulgrew Miller. And here he walks us through his career, some of the choices he has made to make him one of the bass world's brightest stars, and the approach he took in capturing Miller's personality on record.
What kind of person was Mulgrew Miller, Richie?
"Mulgrew was the most amazing person I’ve ever met. He was one of the most respected jazz musicians on the scene, and such a kind, friendly, fun-loving person. He didn’t drink, he didn’t do drugs, he didn’t smoke, but he didn’t look down upon people that did these things. People have to live their lives the way they live their lives, and he lived his the way he lived his. He would introduce me as his left-hand man because that’s the bass side of the piano."
How do you go about translating a personality like that into your record?
"A part of me was like, ‘I just want to do his music justice,’ and I was a tiny bit concerned what people would say, because I took some of Mulgrew’s great jazz compositions and made them into R&B songs. But the thing is, Mulgrew played in my first band in New York. I had a fusion band. Mulgrew played my very first gig. It was Mulgrew, Cindy Blackman, and Jeffrey Lockhart. Mulgrew played Fender Rhodes and synthesizers in a tiny little club with me, so his mind was open, and so I know he would appreciate it."
The bass is full and front and center on the album.
"Thank you. I use a Fodera Emperor Standard. It’s a five-string, and I endorse D’Addario. I love their really bright strings, the Pro Steel 45 to 130 gauge. On the acoustic bass, I use D’Addario Pizzicato. I love those. They’re kind of difficult to bow when I need to bow, but for pizzicato, man, they sound beautiful. All the bass tracks were recorded live. That’s how I knew I got the right musicians, because I felt so relaxed in the studio that every song was either one or two takes. I feel like when you start to get into too many takes, the music starts to lose its magic and then I start losing perception."
How did you first get into bass?
"I started playing piano when I was five. I always wanted to be a drummer, but my mother said, ‘You have to play the piano first.’ I studied from age five to age eight, and then she said, ‘Now you can play the drums.’ I kept playing drums and piano, and then I started playing saxophone. When I went to a performing arts high school, I auditioned on drums and saxophone, and I also played xylophone in the jazz band. Then I wanted to play electric guitar, and this guy was supposed to give me a guitar. I gave him some money, and he ended up giving me a bass because he didn’t have a guitar to give me. I fell in love with the bass and I just went insane practicing. I started out on four hours a day, and by the time I was 16, I wasn’t doing schoolwork any more, I was putting in eight hours a day on the bass. By the time I was in college, I was putting in between six and twelve hours. I was just a fanatic."
I would devote a lot of time to technical things. I took acoustic bass lessons, so I learned proper hand positioning, but most of my electric bass training is self-taught.
Were you following a programme of study?
"I would go through different things in my practice routine. I always allowed myself time just to play, to create something that I loved on the bass. I would devote a lot of time to technical things. I took acoustic bass lessons, so I learned proper hand positioning, but most of my electric bass training is self-taught, and a good part of the acoustic bass is self-taught, too. I would develop my own exercises. I would learn a solo or something, or a melody, and I would come to a tricky part that I couldn’t play, and so I would make that into an exercise and figure it out, What is the problem, the left hand or the right hand?’ I would make exercises out of those, and I would run those for hours.
When the passion hits you when you’re young, nothing’s going to get you off that instrument.
"No, it wouldn’t. But also, I grew up in Pittsburgh, in a predominantly black neighborhood. I was into rock music, folk music, gospel music, R&B, funk, and rap. I was into all of that. In my neighborhood, it was all about the bass. It was all about Bootsy Collins and Louis Johnson. It could be the most simple bassline, but if I could play that, everyone in the neighbourhood thought I was the baddest dude."
Which other bass players influenced you?
"Bootsy was the number one, my very first influence on the bass. Later, when I was about 15, a friend of mine told me, ‘You’re a bass player, right? So you’re going to see Stanley Clarke.’ I said, ‘Who?’ and he was like, ‘You call yourself a bass player and you don’t know who Stanley Clarke is?’
So I went to see Stanley on a school night. The opening band went on at nine o’clock, so Stanley came on about 11. I was tired, but when he came on, my mind was just blown. He’s the reason I started playing acoustic bass. I said, ‘Stanley Clarke is the best, and he plays electric and upright, so I have to play electric and upright.' I’ll never forget the first day at the performing arts high school. The first day, the music teacher said, ‘Don’t think that you’re going to make a career out of music...'
Have you been a musician since then?
"My whole life has been music and sports. I’ve been so dedicated to both of them since I can remember. I played every sport under the sun. I really wanted to be a professional football player, and around high school I had to decide if I was going to go to my local high school and pursue football, or go to the performing arts high school. My counsellor urged me to take the latter route. He said, ‘You have this gift for music. You should go to performing arts high school, with the intention of being a professional musician’. I said, ‘You mean I could get paid to do this? This could be my job?’ He said, ‘Oh, absolutely.
"I wish I knew who that counsellor was, at Gladstone High School in Hazelwood, Pittsburgh, because he made a career in music seem possible to me. Some people think music is hit or miss, it’s luck of the draw, maybe you can get your big break. He didn’t make it seem like that. He made it seem like, if you want to be a doctor, you put in the work, you study, and you’ll be a doctor. I always said, ‘This is what I’m going to do.’"
Did you always have that confidence?
"I’ll never forget the first day at the performing arts high school. The first day, the music teacher said, ‘Don’t think that you’re going to make a career out of music. Probably only one of you in this whole graduating class will.’ I didn’t know anyone in that school, and I stood up and faced the class, and I said, ‘Well, sorry, guys. That’s going to be me’. I wasn’t a cocky person. I was always really humble, but when it came to music, I was confident. I just knew that making it was not a question."
People are going to love your new album.
"Thank you. I spent a lot of time working out the arrangements, about six to nine months going over it, picking the material. But once we got in the studio, I had the right guys, and I feel like they just made magic happen. I’m really happy with it. I think Mulgrew would be happy, too."
Occhimag - our eye on the arts
Richie Goods & The Goods Project: My Left Hand Man
by George W. Harris • March 12, 2020
Richie Goods uses his electric and acoustic basses in various formats to give a hip tribute to the late piano great and former employer/mentor Mulgrew Miller, taking his compositions and giving them a new paint job. He mixes and matches with not only a core team of Lil John Roberts/dr, Shedrick Mitchell-Mike King/p-key, and Tariqh Akoni-David Rosenthal/g but with various guests for a richly textured portrait.
Any Schroeder brings her viola and violin for a hip fusion “Saud’s Run” and a soul jazzer of “Song For Darnell” while hip vibes by Chien Chien Lu give a WAR funk feel to “Dreaming”. Some wacka-wooka guitar and Rafael Pereira’s percussion make for a disco ball of “Farewell To Dogma” with Mitchell’s pretty keys and Jean Baylor’s rich voice make for a gorgeous “Second Thoughts.” As for Goods himself, his work is sleek on the romantic “The Sage” and he gorgeously broods on his aria “The Left Hand Man.” This guy’s got a great touch, a great feel and makes for a great hour of music. Check him out.
Gail Boyd Artist Management Welcomes New Client Richie Goods
I am pleased to announce Richie Goods as a new addition to my roster. Richie is a stellar talent, and we couldn’t be happier to be working with him. Richie will be recording new albums this year.
Richie’s solo project with his fusion/funk band, “Richie Goods and Nuclear Fusion, Live at the Zinc Bar” and his latest release, “Three Rivers” received critical acclaim. After graduating from the prestigious jazz program at Berklee College of Music, Richie moved to New York City, where he studied under jazz legends Ron Carter and Ray Brown. Richie credits jazz luminary Mulgrew Miller for helping him hone his jazz skills early in his career. Richie toured and recorded with Mulgrew for nine years. Richie recorded and toured with a variety of jazz and popular artists such as: Lenny White, Russell Malone, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Grammy award-winning and platinum albums of Alicia Keys and Common. Richie most recently toured with Grammy winning trumpeter, Chris Botti.
— Gail Boyd
Veteran New York doubler and Chris Botti Band mainstay Richie Goods taps into the power of ’70s jazz-rock and his Pittsburgh roots for his spirited debut studio album. “Soul Glow” sets the plucky parameters with a metal–funk merge, followed by the unison-riffing title track. “Four Kings” (featuring Botti) and a well-chosen cover of the Bill Withers ballad “Hope She’ll Be Happier” up the melodic quotient, while Tears For Fears’ “Shout”—radically recast as a boogie burner—and the dark, exploratory “Epic” also stand out. An added plus: the fierce drumming of Billy Kilson throughout.
— George W. Harris, BassPlayer Magazine
The Hippo Press
Richie Goods is a Pittsburgh Jazz Hall of Fame bass player whose tour credits include Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera, this after studying under legendary Blue Note guy Ron Carter in New York. The line on his original stuff would have you expecting mellower fusion a la Spyro Gyra, but what I heard here — save for funked-up ballad appearances from singers Shayna Steele and Sy Smith (“Sightless Bird”; “Hope She’ll Be Happier”) — was a modernized Return to Forever, not so modernized if you consider the outright hard rock workouts in the title track.
The opener “Soul Glow” has a suspended-animation riff that proves he can restrain himself from going all-out Pelican-metal, but the desire is there, telling from every plonk of his Rickenbacker as well as the volatile sounds of guitarist Ben Butler, a real treasure who punches up every guitar sound from Al di Meloa to Blue Oyster Cult on that one track alone. Not that this is a repressed metal thing, no — “Cosmic Beauty” comes off like Relayer-era Yes, and there’s a wildly complicated version of Tears for Fears’ “Shout” that makes for a great knuckler. A-
— Eric W. Saeger, The Hippo Press
All About Jazz
“…there are still only a few musicians doing all-original “old school” high energy jazz-rock fusion. Bassist and composer Richie Goods is one of these brave souls. His latest album, Three Rivers—with a superb band he’s dubbed Nuclear Fusion in tow—is a generous slab of in-your-face funky jazz-rock that takes you back to the mid-1970s in the best possible way. The title track is a great example. It’s got a tricky odd time signature, crunchy rock drumming, weird keyboard sounds, a throbbing bass line, and a stinging, fuzzed-out guitar solo.
Goods does more than write the tunes and maintain a funky bottom end. He plays a lot of finger-popping, thumb-slapping lead bass in the style of Stanley Clarke and Gerald Veasley and his solos are consistently engaging and interesting. Not one to leave any stylistic stone unturned, Three Rivers also features four brief pieces featuring Goods’ acoustic bass work. One of these is a lovely cover version of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” His band is sharp and on-the-money. Guitarist Ben Butler and keyboardist Andy Ezrin, both previously unknown to me, have chops to burn and a firm grasp of the demands of Goods’ eclectic jazz-rock-funk style. I last heard drumming dynamo Billy Kilson in Tim Hagans’ Animation Imagination and David Holland’s quintet. Since then, he’s been leading his own group, BK Groove, and working with Robin Eubanks, Chris Botti, and Paula Cole.
Botti guests on one track here, “Four Kings,” a funky slow-burn that suits his Miles Davis-influenced trumpet style quite nicely. “Mudd Funk” more than lives up to its name, with Goods’ lead bass sharing the melody with organist Sheldrick Mitchell as the famed hip-hop drummer (and occasional Snarky Puppy member) Lil’ John Roberts provides a strutting backbeat. R&B influences crop up on the tracks featuring vocalists Sy Smith and Shayna Steele. “Sightless Bird,” and “Hope She’ll Be Happier” are tender ballads. Both have that Gospel touch, yet the performances of Smith and Steele are refreshingly restrained and soulful. “Epic” couldn’t be more different; a heavy, complex jazz-rock piece featuring Kilson’s crackling drums and Andy Ezrin’s mellow Rhodes, Carolyn Leonhart’s wordless vocal is used as a melodic lead in unison with Goods’ bass. The band’s version of “Shout” by Tears for Fears is completely off the wall. Played as a samba in double time, the band takes the piece into some completely unexpected places.
— David Wayne, All About Jazz