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Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion -
Live at the Zinc Bar
(Richman Productions)

3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Mar. 27, 2008
Richie Goods

Review by Brad Walseth

This satisfying live set by a group of talented modern musicians lives up to its name by presenting a stellar set list of well-played jazz fusion classics, along with two originals in similar vein, written by bassist/bandleader Goods. The Pittsburgh-raised bassist graduated from Berklee, studied with Ron Carter and Ray Brown, and has been working with top names in jazz, pop and hip-hop ever since. But, as is clear from his debut album as a leader, Goods has a soft spot in his heart for the era when players like Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius brought the electric bass into the spotlight as a full-fledged solo instrument.

The band kicks into things with a spicy version of Wayne Shorter's "Elegant People." This Weather Report gem is funked up a bit and features Helen Sung's electronic keyboards, Mike Clark's feisty drumming and Jeff Lockhart's fiery guitar along with their leader's solid, powerhouse bass riffs. The fun continues with a version of Return to Forever drummer Lenny White's "Sorceress," reminding listeners that for all the bad press the era received, there was some exciting music coming from groups like Weather Report, RTF and Tony Williams' Lifetime (also covered here on "Snake Oil"). The music is played accurately where it counts, but the players are allowed the freedom to add their own stylistic touches, especially on their solos, and all come through with flying colors. Sung's keys remind one of Chick, Herbie and Joe, but she gets her own sounds, and Lockhart has a great sound that is all his own as well, utilizing electronics with his guitar, without simply aping people like Allan Holdsworth or Al DiMeola.

Goods' two originals fit in nicely in the mixture. Two versions of the slinky "Desert Song" are included, and both are worth hearing, as is his other composition, "King Jaffe Joffer." And two Herbie Hancock compositions ("Sly" and "Palm Grease") are also included - not surprising, since Goods is a current member of The Headhunters. Throughout, the bassist's playing is a model of the best of the (4-string) bass playing of that era. Recommended for fans of the fusion era, although some may just want break the old vinyl out to hear the originals, but there is enough originality in the presentation to make this release worthy, and it may serve as an introduction for younger listeners to discover that the '70s were not the wasteland of jazz that many would have you believe.

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Watch Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion
live at Barnes & Noble Lincoln Center, NYC

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