Andrew Gould, First Things First

by Sylvannia Garutch

A new face on the jazz scene has just emerged with a strong sense of confidence within his playing and sensibility within the jazz idiom.  Is there youthfulness within his playing, of course, it takes a lifetime of being in the trenches to achieve the level of John Coltrane or the versatility of Joshua Redman or of course, the mastery of Michael Brecker.  Is Andrew Gould on his way; that would be a strong yes. Aptly tilted First Things First, Gould’s debut offering is firmly footed in the Millennial sound.  A touch of straight-ahead, a dash of R&B, a sprinkle of electronic sounds, as exhibited on cut three “Cool Off” and cut five “R Train,” in addition to cut seven “On a Darker Moon” which features vocalist Ioana Vintu not necessarily a traditionalist singer, she takes more of a smooth-jazz-R&B approach, as Gould is featured on soprano, creating a dialogue of embellishments.

The album kicks off with “The Goulden Ratio,” written by pianist, Steven Feifke its a hard-hitting solo driven tune that allows the rhythm section of bassist Marco Panascia and drummer Jake Goldbas to lock and cook, while Gould laces a heavy round of modern jazz inspired lines that sear the fat right off the bone and get to the marrow of the tune.

A Gould original I really dug was “Destination,” inspired by his heroes John Coltrane and Joe Henderson, who Gould states “both have an enormous influence in how and why I play music,” can be heard in his elongates lines that stay true in focus, as he various through the registers of his saxophone, utilizing his horn to its fullest extent. His tone is warm as he arpeggiates, uses pentatonic lines with muscularity, and builds motifs with cohesiveness, and basically plays his ass off.

A native New Yorker, saxophonist and composer Andrew Gould, has clearly absorbed the sound and emotion of New York, while honoring the influences of his time, yet still firmly grasping the past mastery of jazz greats like Coltrane and Henderson.  First Things First, is what I hope to be the first step in Gould’s continued evolutionary sound and journey of recognition. He certainly has ability on his side.

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