Polytonal Dance Party
“When I started asking musicians to read theses chords, they wanted me to go away and die,” Brad Goode tells fellow trumpeter John McNeil in the liner notes to the harmonically twisted Polytonal Dance Party. McNeil’s witty observations and the accompanying lead sheets underscore the challenges that Goode’s recruits faced—and ultimately surmounted. Still, it has to be said that listeners with a low tolerance for otherworldly harmonic schemes may also feel inclined to tell Goode where to go.
As its title suggests, though, Polytonal Dance Party is meant to be something of a romp, and there’s nothing inaccessible about the way drummer Anthony Lee often uses implacable funk beats to kick the music into a post-fusion, polychordal orbit, beginning with the opening track, “Encryption.” One of five Goode compositions that appear on the album, “Encryption” is the first to illustrate the ease with which the virtuosic trumpeter and his bandmates—Lee, guitarist-sitarist Bill Kopper, keyboardist Jeff Jenkins and bassist Ken Walker—navigate the album’s disorienting charts.
In addition to sustaining a high funk quotient and allowing for improvised sprints, Goode creates a few seductive, muted brass interludes when the focus shifts to vintage pop tunes. Indeed, McNeil suggests that Goode’s take on the old R&B hit “Betcha by Golly Wow” could qualify as “a Martian soul ballad,” a description that seems apt given how the familiar melody manages to peek through the spacey harmonies. All in all, it’s an intriguing and audacious effort.