Especially in these challenging times, there’s nothing like rockin’ and jazzing in a new year (as opposed to just ringin’ it in!) with hopeful optimism and the kind of wildly unbridled, free for all, rambunctious music that Eric Goletz brings us on his latest expansive ensemble project A New Light.
Perhaps the most incredible aspect of this concept album that puts a zesty modern twist on the classic electric jazz fusion energies of the 70s and 80s is the fact that just two years ago, Goletz was a 30 year studio musician and first call horn player in NYC – but had yet to emerge as a recording artist.
The veteran composer, arranger and trombonist made up for lost time in late winter 2021 with the release of his similarly rambunctious debut album Into the Night… - and less than a year later, taking the voltage and melodic, grooving electro big band magic to even more transcendent levels, it’s clear that a delightfully innovative (and ultra-prolific!) monster has been unleashed.
Bookending the set with the dramatic fanfare of “Prelude Before the Light” and “Postlude After the Light,” Goletz and his seven piece main crew (including guest Randy Brecker), nine piece horn section and five piece work up all kinds of booming festive, high octane fun on a batch of adventurous originals (from the edgy brass-funk title cut jam to the saucy horn-accented strut of “Greene Street Groove), peppered with newfangled twists on tunes by everyone from Miles Davis (a scorching romp through “Dig,” featuring Brecker at his blistering best) to Jonathan Butler (the uber-romantic “Song For Elizabeth,” one of the set’s rare lower key expressions).
Adding intrigue to the mix is the way Goletz and company take “Sunrise Sunset,” the legendary wedding song from “Fiddler on the Roof,” from tender ballad to blazing rocker via the intense electric guitarisma of Henry Heinitsch. The band also gets bluesy on one of the hippest cuts “Don’t Gimme That!,” which features the otherworldly quick B-3 soloing of Allen Farnham, followed quickly with one of Goletz’s trademark soaring ‘bone improvisations, all over the explosive drums of Steve Johns.
Clearly, Goletz was harboring a lot of energy as a future solo artist working as a sideman for so long – and it’s great to see so much of it unleashed at a time where he somehow knew we would need it more than ever before.