The Henry Godfrey Jazz Orchestra, Attitude & Gratitude Review
by Nolan DeBuke
The Henry Godfrey Jazz Orchestra is releasing their sophomore release, Attitude & Gratitude, which contains a collection of tributes to the many communities and experiences that have shaped Godfrey’s artistic vision and worldview. Godfrey received his bachelor’s degree in Jazz Composition from the Berklee College of Music (2018) and obtained a master’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music (2020). Godfrey has also studied the Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, with a certification to teach the concept. He is joined by a premiere young musicians in the Boston jazz scene, giving each selection excitement and energy. The five compositions on the album are Godfrey originals created with his unique vision of groovy, funk-influenced jazz while honoring the jazz luminaries who paved the path so far.
The opening composition is a tribute to McCoy Tyner called “For McCoy.” The Henry Godfrey Jazz Orchestra kicks off the song with an unmistakable groove that has influences of Tyner’s style of playing. Each section of the ensemble has unique parts that make them stand out and, together, add to the sum of the composition. Godfrey’s drumming is fluid, and adding auxiliary percussion is a nice touch. Next, Rowan Barcham takes a relaxed piano solo that is augmented by Godfrey stylish backgrounds. The energy grows as guitarist Pritesh Walia takes the reins with a fluid solo supported by Godfrey’s writing and groove from the set.
“Hot Water” starts with a rhythm section figure and Godfrey playing tasteful brush fills and groove on the set. The counterpoint of the orchestra’s different sections is rich in texture and melodic colors. The title carries many meanings. In addition to being a musician, Godfrey has also been a chef at an award-winning Japanese udon restaurant in Boston, where he earned the nickname ‘Hot Water.’ The title also refers to the explosive nature of this swinging tune, representing a pot of water coming to a boil, then mellowing, then simmering, then boiling over. Trombonist Jasmine Sloane and tenor saxophonist Anton Derevyanko perform building solos over an altered minor blues. Godfrey’s ensemble writing shows maturity of orchestration and patiently building passages to clear climaxes.
Attitude & Gratitude is a vigorous sophomore album for The Henry Godfrey Jazz Orchestra. The ensemble playing and compositions are enjoyable and imaginative, revealing the energy and passion of Godfrey’s unique vision of jazz as a bandleader, composer, and drummer.