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  • Jonathan Widran


Not at all surprising considering the dazzling sonic flow of artful and jazzy brass arrangements and edgy pop-electronica arrangements he showcases throughout, Grammy nominated and Juno Award winning songwriter, producer and arranger Jason “Spicy G” Goldman brings an expansive history in the service of legends and music education to his emergence as a topline artist with his new EP Hypnotized.

In 2003, David Foster selected Jason to be the featured saxophonist in Michael Buble’s first touring band. While on the Canadian singer’s first global tour, he began writing arrangements of Great American Songbook tunes for the eight-piece. He has since worked on five of Buble’s albums, including co-producing the #2 Billboard album Nobody but Me in 2016. Jason co-wrote two of the original tracks, including the Top Ten AC title track.

Jason's credits include writing and arranging for Foster, Herbie Hancock and Meghan Trainor and performing with everyone from Queen Latifah, Chris Isaak and Michael Feinstein to Terence Blanchard and Wayne Shorter. A renowned music educator for nearly 20 years, he is an Associate Professor of Practice and Chair of the jazz studies department at USC and the director and founder of the nonprofit Young Musicians Project.

Aside from creating spirited and compelling, engaging yet sonically intricate versions of four standards and the colorful original title track, perhaps Jason’s most impressive feat with Hypnotized is sharing literally every aspect of his deep resume and musical artistry in under 15 minutes. Laying a foundation of hypnotic, sonically inventive atmospheres and seductive, slow-burning grooves, in addition to regaling us with his sense of dreamy romance on “Hypnotized,” he unearths fresh ways to invite us into the romantic and poetic narratives of “Pennies From Heaven,” “Orange Colored Sky,” “Witchcraft” and “Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.” Throughout the set, he regales us with his alto, tenor and baritone sax playing - sometimes in solo spurts, but most often as part of bold, soul-enveloping brass arrangements with his powerhouse horn section.

Like Foster, Jason has an incredible ear for great young vocalists. Considering his proverbial “rolodex,” for higher visibility’s sake, the easiest approach to having featured interpreters would have been to tap stars that everyone recognizes. Fortunately, and to the project’s eternal benefit, the educator in him took precedence, and he made the choice to introduce three stylish and dazzling young female singers worthy of more exposure- and beyond that, imminent stardom. As he says in his liner notes, “I needed the help of some of the most authentic jazz singers around. I enlisted the talents of three wonderful vocalists.”

With her unique blend of innocence/vulnerability, sass and emotional urgency, L.A. based Olivia Morreale (a former student of Jason’s) truly owns the sensual arrangement (with big bursts of horns) of “Pennies from Heaven” and hip, Latin-tinged spin through “Witchcraft” that’s even higher on the hipster meter than the long ago TV rendition featuring Frank and Elvis. Vermont native Erin Bentlage, whose new vocal group säje includes Sara Gazarek, Amanda Taylor and Johnaye Kendrick, uncovers a veritable rainbow of colors and loads of dramatic flair the whimsical and hypnotically percussive “Orange Colored Sky.” Jason says of Addie Hamilton, who brings a blend of ethereal innocence and sweet seduction to “Hypnotized” and “Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter”: “Her voice is like silk and her presence radiates throughout the music.”

Hypnotized is truly the coolest and most uplifting 15 minutes of contemporary jazz/pop you’ll hear all year. And considering the kind of year it’s been, it’s likely you’ll want to put these on repeat as you, like I, ponder the heights that Jason, his brilliant ensemble and these three superb vocalists could reach with a CD length project. Hint, hint…


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