Trumpeter Brad Goode is also a professor of jazz studies, and for his new Nature Boy album, he wrote his own liner notes to explain the methods of interpretation used to perform the pop standards covered on the disc. His preparation emphasizes an analysis of the lyrics to the songs, lyrics that will not be heard on his versions, but that he hopes to express musically with his horn.
Of course, as a scholar, Goode must be familiar with the Intentional Fallacy, the notion that an artist must be judged on what he has achieved, not on what he says he was trying to do. A good example of that dichotomy comes immediately with the lead-off title track. Goode may have researched the history of the strange Eden Ahbez song, but he also notes that he “allow[s] the band to bring the weight of their own personalities into the rendition,” and it sounds like drummer Todd Reid has spent more time listening to Philly Joe Jones’ playing than wondering what Ahbez’s philosophical words mean. The aggressive drumming drives the track, obliterating memories of Nat “King” Cole’s original. Similarly, the album ends with a version of Cole Porter’s “All Through the Night” that transforms it into a bebop barnburner; so much for the composer’s sleek sophistication.
Actually, Goode and his band, also including Jeff Jenkins on piano and Johannes Weidenmuller on bass, are at their best on Goode’s four originals, which range from lyrical ballads like “Celedon” to the lively and surprising “Nightmare in the Mechanized World.” The latter may not remind the listener of Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times, as Goode says he intended, but it provides the most inventive playing here.