Comparisons to George Benson and Wes Montgomery are an indication of how highly rated Düsseldorf born jazz guitarist Torsten Goods is in the modern jazz pantheon. Friday nights show seemed too low key an affair to give a definitive answer as to whether the comparisons are justified, but it left no doubt that Ortszentrum Dottendorf and its ‘Dottendorfer Jazznacht’ really is establishing itself. The plain looking fascade hides a local venue to enjoy World Class Jazz in a ‘living room’ atmosphere.
Just a glance at the big blue guitar on the stage before the show began left no doubt that this guy was highly rated. Made by German guitar luthier AJ Keller it’s a beautiful archtop electric instrument with cutaways. Big in the way that jazz guitars always tend to be, but still light and, of course, there’s a signature on the headstock – Torsten Goods. It’s ten minutes to eight and I’m now keener than ever to get my watches big hand to twelve, and hear this big blue baby sing and cry.
When Herbert Kaupert does bring the trio onstage I’m a bit baffled. none of them looks remotely like the carefully coiffeured, Michael J Fox of the videos and the posters. The sort of cosmetically airbrushed face guaranteed to add a row of young girls to any concert. These guys look like die-hard Jazz players who are into the music and not the hairstyles. What a relief!
The change in appearance, as Goods points out, is actually down to an auto-immune illness. Tonight he is jauntily wearing a Kangol cap, peak at the back, that reminds me of Al Jarreau – and this will not be the last time Jarreau’s name pops into my head whilst listening this evening. Torsten Goods is a big man, but slim built to a point where the guitar seems almost bigger than it’s wearer when he first straps it on. When he begins to play though, the notes coming out of it are light as a feather, floating on the breeze of the stageside fans from guitar to my ears. Nat Adderley’s ‘Work Song’ warms the band up quickly and only a minute into Van Morrison’s ‘No Religion’ and I’ve decided that the first Jazz guitar disc I will buy since a friend put me onto Kenny Burrell will be from the man in front of me now.
Although born in Düsseldorf (for which Goods apologizes profusely to us Bonn locals) Goods was born to an Irish mother, and like anyone with irish blood in their veins, he knows his way around the Irish ‘classics’. ‘Danny Boy’, he points out, started as an instrumental called ‘Londonderry Air’. It is, he recalls, a number that still brings tears to his mothers eyes when he plays it – which he also does today. I find it a little too abstract, preferring his takes on more modern material. ‘Downtown’ is similarly abstract, a wonderful technical exercise and workout for the band with it’s staccato back and forth of vocals and piano/guitar.
Andi Kisseneck on keys and Tobias Backhaus on drums are the perfect foils for Goods to exchange musical licks on – their faces alwys smiling but their eyes always watchful for a nuance of a glance or finger from Goods to warn of a change in rhythm, melody or pace. I get the impression that improvisation is a must on the cv of anyone joining Torsten Goods onstage – and these guys both deserve A+ for their abilities here.
In the territory of modern pop songs though Torsten Goods really comes into his own for listening pleasure. Billy Joel’s ‘New York State of Mind’, with an arrangement by pianist Andi Kissenbeck, for example is a dream. ‘When Love comes to town’ is a perfect chance for Goods to meld his irish roots (a song by U2) with his obvious blues leanings (BB King) and whilst he doesn’t mess with BB’s approach there’s no way anyone can sound like BB and because he actually has his own style, Goods is able to make the song his own. Well maybe it’s Al Jarreau’s style… It’s still beautifully smoothe music at the end of a long week though.
If there was such a thing as a hit record in the reporoire of Torsten Goods he says, it would be the one that “got a lot of plays, in Russia I think it was” He grins warmly. No one is ever going to take on a Freddie Mercury song and wrestle it away from Freddie of course (the great Freddie Mercury as Goods aknowledges) but if they did, it just might be his hypnotic rendition of ‘Crazy Little Thing Called love’ that does it.
At the end of an evening of relaxing music I’m thinking how wonderful this crazy little thing called Jazz in this crazy little oddly nameed venue ‘Dottendorfer Ortszentrum’ is. I recommend checking out the rest of the season HERE
Finally, a clip from the concert featuring ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’