Gabrielle Goodman - Songs From the Book (2011)

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    Gabrielle Goodman

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    The last time we heard from singer, songwriter producer and educator Gabrielle Goodman was 2004, when her wonderful adult soul disc Angel Eyes was getting a fair amount of attention. Goodman, who received some notoriety in the 90s as a jazz chanteuse on the Verve label, was by then an instructor at Boston's acclaimed Berklee School of Music, and issued a self-released disc that included many of her musical peers and admirers, including saxman Walter Beasley, and won her some new fans in the soul music community.

    The last time we heard from singer, songwriter producer and educator Gabrielle Goodman was 2004, when her wonderful adult soul disc Angel Eyes was getting a fair amount of attention. Goodman, who received some notoriety in the 90s as a jazz chanteuse on the Verve label, was by then an instructor at Boston's acclaimed Berklee School of Music, and issued a self-released disc that included many of her musical peers and admirers, including saxman Walter Beasley, and won her some new fans in the soul music community.

    After Angel Eyes, Goodman focused on her work at Berklee and wrote a vocal instructional book called Vocal Improvisation.  The book included a number of Goodman's compositions, and she began performing and recording those songs, leaking them one at a time on the web beginning in 2009. And while her fans were likely hoping for a full-fledged CD release by now, Goodman has instead compiled a few of her recorded compositions in the form of the new EP, Songs from the Book.

    If there is a general theme that runs through Songs, it is the not the similarity of the songs but rather their diversity and Goodman's  impressive ability to wind through them with conviction. The ethereal number "Neo Soul Etude," which features light instrumentation wrapped in Goodman's oohs and aahs, weaves its way throughout the disc, serving as both intro and outro as well as a three minute centerpiece.  The spunky "I Wanna Be With You" allows Goodman to break loose in the most R&B-oriented track on the disc, and she again shows that she has the pipes.  But for my money, more enjoyable are her two forays into Gospel, especially the piano-driven "Thankful," where Goodman's Patti Austin-like phrasing works beautifully.  Goodman changes things up completely on "A Change Gon' Come," where she steps back into a supportive role and gives center stage to fellow Berklee instructor Jeff Ramsey, whose expressive, inspired lead arguably creates the disc's best moment.

    Gabrielle Goodman has shown herself to be a singer who can belt with Aretha or purr through a sexy jazz cut and be equally convincing on both. While her longtime fans revel in that versatility, Songs From the Book is only long enough to give new listeners a taste of the talent that lies beneath. We'll take this sample for now, but will certainly be hoping for much more soon from the talented Ms. Goodman. Recommended.

    By Chris Rizik

     
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