With An Exquisite Moment, Joel Goodman's deeply personal and improvisation-rich debut album of "full-experience" music, the Emmy-winning composer of more than 150 film and television projects – including many Oscar nominees and Emmy recipients – embarks on an epic voyage of self-discovery alongside some of the most accomplished and creative names in jazz.
Special guests Randy Brecker (flugelhorn, trumpet), Brandee Younger (harp), Lisa Fischer (vocals), John Patitucci (bass), and Philippe Saisse (piano, vibes, marimba) join an A-team core group consisting of Donny McCaslin (saxophones), Eric Harland (drums), Adam Rogers (guitar), Mino Cinélu (percussion), Scott Colley (bass) and Goodman himself on keyboards and bass. Together they take flight on the wings of music written by Goodman in a spontaneous burst of creativity.
"Although I've spent my life composing, most film music can sound incomplete without visuals or a story," Goodman says. "An Exquisite Moment, however, is about creating a full listening experience radically different from my film work. I wrote and recorded it simply for the sake of making good music – and I found the process completely liberating."
In May 2021, Goodman composed An Exquisite Moment's earliest sketches on electric bass in his Topanga Canyon studio. "I wasn't consciously composing music for an album, just sitting there playing what felt good," the native New Yorker says. "I then called my old friend, producer/arranger, Joe Mardin and told him I was thinking about making an album of my own and asked if he’d be interested in co-producing. When he immediately said yes, it kind of hit me that this is now real and propelled me to continue writing. "Within days, I'd written all this music that caught me by surprise. It was nothing like I'd ever written; it was entirely different."
In-between composing and recording, Goodman found himself listening to John Coltrane's A Love Supreme and other spiritual-jazz masterpieces. "Listening to Alice Coltrane, I could almost feel the presence of her Sai Anantam Ashram just a couple of miles away from where I live," he says.
In September, Goodman and co-producer Joe Mardin (Chakha Khan, George Benson, Aretha Franklin) oversaw two long days of sessions in New York's storied Power Station studio, with Grammy-winning engineer Elliot Scheiner behind the console. The musicians worked from charts leaving plenty of room for spontaneous interplay. Eric Harland in particular was allowed unfettered rhythmic rein. "None of the tunes had written drum parts," Mardin says, "because we didn't want to lock Eric into a groove. Joel wanted to see what would happen to his music in a room full of really gifted players, what these guys would bring to this music before he reshaped it in any way."
An Exquisite Moment became a work that well rewards repeat listening. With Goodman playing Fender Rhodes and providing atmospheric touches on his Arturia MatrixBrute synthesizer, each song blossomed in performance while offering rich possibilities for post-session expansion. The electrifying opener "What Dreamers Dream," for example, sounded nearly perfect in the studio, Goodman says. "But I'd been listening to Brandee Younger and thought she'd sound great on it. Joe was like, 'Really? Harp?' I played one pass of harp on my keyboard and he saw what I meant. And then she came in and significantly elevated the tune."
The mesmerizing title track went through more changes than anything else on the album. After reshaping the original take's mood and form, the producers brought in John Patitucci, for a soulful bass solo, and Mardin suggested Lisa Fischer, whose wordless soprano takes it over the top. "Drifting in Wonder," meanwhile, is an incandescent daydream featuring Adam Rogers's guitar and one of the album's many passionately sculpted Donny McCaslin solos. "The Mystery of Trees" contemplates the arboreal realm with a steadily ascending melody and harmony, and features Grammy-winning horn legend Randy Brecker on flugelhorn. "Rumi and the Whirling Dervish" rewrites the book on the Sufi poet with a thrilling and festive celebration involving McCaslin and Harland. And the extended-form "A Change of Heart" features post-session strings and winds in intimate rapport with the soloists.
"Astral Projection" is a cosmic grand finale in four movements: "The Vision," "Orbit," "Bliss," and "Exaltation." The piece grows melodically and harmonically more complex through "Bliss," where Scott Colley performs an extended solo fleshed out by strings and winds, with rapturous results.
"Without exception, every single person who plays on the album came with the willingness to take risks, step out of their comfort zone, and try new ideas," Goodman says. "And because of that, there's real emotional value in every single note they played."
Goodman thrives both inside and outside of the film world. Most recently he scored the social-justice documentary Loudmouth, which will make its theatrical debut this fall and is currently scoring the HBO film Entangled: Tree Stories for the Oscar-nominated director Irene Taylor, their 4th collaboration. And, as he has his entire life, Goodman continues to compose for the sheer love of music. One future project will highlight piano-based compositions for solo piano, duos, and groups. Another venture focuses on electronic music. "People have been describing me as 'organic' for years," he notes, "so nobody expects me to do an electronic album."
Joel Goodman defies expectations throughout An Exquisite Moment – a transcendent collection of exquisite moments capturing the sound of a new and robust creative force. - Richard Gehr (Rolling Stone, Apple Music)
About Joel Goodman:
“Joel Goodman… has contributed to many of the more prominent nonfiction films of the past 30 years.”
- Wall Street Journal
Joel Goodman creates emotion through music. As a multi-talented composer for feature films, documentaries, television, album releases, performance ensembles and other forms of collaborative media, his signature style thrives in musical settings that express the full range of human emotion.
An Emmy-winner and four-time Emmy nominee known for a deeply nuanced sound filled with intricate subtleties, Goodman’s diverse body of work includes scores to over 150 films and television programs that have received 5 Oscar nominations, 30 Emmy awards and over 40 Emmy nominations. He has scored over 40 films for HBO and composed the Main Theme for the long-running and critically acclaimed PBS series American Experience.
His scores can regularly be heard in movie theaters and on television around the world. His notable award-winning films include Loudmouth (Greenwich Entertainment), Obit (Amazon), Everything Is Copy (HBO), Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah (HBO), Walt Disney (PBS), An Honest Liar (Netflix), Being Elmo (PBS), Once Upon A Time in Queens (ESPN), and Murder Among the Mormons (Netflix). As a record producer Joel’s credits include releases for Chuck Mangione, Livingston Taylor and Carla Lother.
Joel has collaborated with an impressive array of distinguished directors and producers including Neil LaBute, Albert Maysles, Andrew Jarecki, Barbara Kopple, Wong Kar-wai, Rachel Grady, Marshall Curry, Sebastian Junger, Barak Goodman, Alexandra Pelosi, Michael Epstein, Joe Berlinger, Oren Jacoby, Irene Taylor, Betsy West, Lesli Iwerks and Fisher Stevens.
Always looking to give back to his community, Joel conducts master classes and has been composer-in-residence in the United States and Europe, including seminars on film music at the American Film Institute, USC, Berklee College of Music – Boston & Valencia, University of North Texas, AFI Docs, The Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Denmark, Columbia College Chicago and the International Documentary Association’s Getting Real conference. He is also a regular panelist for such organizations as ASCAP, PMA, IFP, AFI and SCL amongst others.
A native New Yorker, Joel splits his time between Paris, Los Angeles and New York, and anywhere he can enjoy the great outdoors.
Marcus Rojas - Tuba
Scott Tibbs - Piano
Greg Herzanach - Acoustic and Electric Guitar
Joe Mardin – Additional Arranging and Instruments
Phil O’Connor - Clarinet, Bass Clarinet
Bobby Shulgold - Flute
Brian Scanlon - Alto Saxophone, Clarinet
Charlie Morillas – Trombone
Kat Robertson Concertmaster, Philip Vaiman, Wynton Grant, Sharon Jackson, Erika Walczak, Yihuan Zhao -Violin
Matt Naabours, Karolina Naziemiec, Drew Forde -Viola
All music composed by Joel Goodman
All arrangements by Joel Goodman with Joe Mardin, except
An Exquisite Moment arranged by Joe Mardin and Joel Goodman
Produced by Joe Mardin and Joel Goodman
Recorded at The Power Station, NYC September 19 & 20, 2021
by Elliot Scheiner, assistant engineer Akihiro “Aki” Nishimura
Strings & Winds recorded at Sonic Fuel December 1, 2021
by Josh Margolis, assistant engineer Caitlyn Holley
Various recordings at NuNoise by Joe Mardin
Mastered at The Bunker by Alex DeTurk
Art Director – Dave Bett