How can the same musician be a NYC studio legend and first call horn player, yet also be hailed by Jazziz magazine as one of the Top 10 Unsigned Artists in the country? Welcome to the fascinating multi-faceted world of trombone great (and sometimes pianist) Eric Goletz, who has followed 30 years of creating dynamic brass sounds for other performers with a burgeoning career as a band leader and artist in his own right. Full speed ahead, he released two critically acclaimed albums of all original compositions in 2021, the debut collection Into the Night and A New Light, which put a fiery modern twist on the classic jazz fusion energies of the 70s and 80s.
His third album Standard-ized! seems to be the alternately seductive/soulful and supercharged/freewheeling response to the question, “What would happen if he and his adventurous band of famed New York jazz cats funneled all that unbridled energy and invention into re-imaginings of jazz and pop songs Goletz loves?” In two words, the results are inspired and masterful, creating fresh sonic canvasses for the leader and his crew to jam on as they tackle classics by everyone from Charlie Parker (the swinging, fast paced and wildly improvisational opener “Now’s the Time”) and Duke Ellington (a sly, playful romp through “Caravan” featuring a lush string arrangement) to Stanley Turrentine (a moody, meditative spin on “Sugar”), Michel Legrand (lush lyrical renderings of “The Summer Knows” and “Windmills of Your Mind”) and Stevie Wonder (an ironically subdued “Overjoyed” with Goletz doubling piano).
Goletz gives almost a quarter of the expansive 14-track set to colorful arrangements of three Horace Silver tunes – a bustling and sizzling, Latinized “Nutsville,” and buoyant, hard swinging whirlwind swirls through “Jungle Juice” and “Mayreh.” Growing organically out of a casual cocktail hour gig with his core band, Goletz enjoys varying the lineups a bit from tune to tune, alternately presenting a trio, quartet, sextet and septet, which adds to the unique diversity of the expansive set. Beyond his six piece unit and a string section, his featured artists include soprano saxophonist Don Braden and the stunning vocalist Lajuan Carter, who brings sweet soul and emotional imagination to “Nature Boy” and “Windmills of Your Mind.”