If you’re reading this Spotlight, it’s likely you have seen and heard the trumpet performance of Brad Goode. If you have, you remember it, because he’s just amazing. But let me ask you, did you ever see him, as I did, during a jam session, switch to bass? And then to drums? And play each just as well? Did you wonder, as you sat awestruck, where this dude came from and how is this possible? Well, reader, I’m about to tell you!
Born and raised in Chicago, Brad began music instruction at age 4, under the tutelage of an Italian guy who spoke no English and gave violin lessons in a school basement boiler room, hitting his student when he was displeased. Brad tolerated this (well not really!) for four years and finally quit.
From there, he taught himself to play rock & roll guitar and went on to play cornet in his high school band. Jazz and the concept of improvisation were simply unknowns until one day….
Let’s stand here with 15-year-old Brad in front of this record store, waiting for the bus. Oh, look, there’s a box of free records! Let’s grab this one. Hmmm. Don Cherry and someone called Pharaoh Sanders. Let’s take it home and listen. Oh my! What is this?! “YOU’RE ALLOWED TO DO THAT???”
Before this, Brad could read music and play it pretty well. But today he heard free jazz instead of written music and was suddenly on a new trajectory. He searched for and found other kinds of jazz records to play. One day, playing a Dizzy Gillespie record by his open bedroom window, a neighbor happened by and knocked on Brad’s door. He had once been the manager of Dizzy’s own record label. They talked for a while and the neighbor arranged for Brad to meet Dizzy himself. After that meeting, Brad knew what he wanted to do with his life.
He continued his formal education, achieving a BM degree in classical trumpet and an MM degree in classical bass.
Brad never had any formal jazz training. No one ever told him to transcribe a great jazz solo or any other technique. He learned simply by listening and experimenting until he began to sit in with working jazz musicians and apprentice with them. He further grew with coaching and teaching from Von Freeman, Ira Sullivan, and Eddie Harris. Later, he even studied with the incomparable Clark Terry.
As a self-taught jazz player, Brad has developed a unique approach to teaching jazz which stands apart from much of mainstream academia’s approach. Certainly, he’s a performer and master improviser, but deep inside, Brad is a teacher. He has developed techniques for teaching jazz, encouraging improvisation, and developing budding students that result in his being called to do jazz education seminars all over the country.
His former students include names you’ll recognize like Hugh Ragin, Jonathan Saraga, Sean Jones, Gabriel Mervine, and other top performers.
In his performing career, he toured and recorded with Von Freeman, Red Rodney, Al Cohn, Eddie Harris, Ira Sullivan, Frank Morgan, Don Lanphere, Curtis Fuller, Jack DeJohnette, Ernie Krivda, Richie Cole, Rosemary Clooney, Barrett Deems and many others. In Chicago, he led his own combo from 1986 until 1998 and appeared at major festivals like the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Tokyo Jazz Festival, the Red Sea Festival in Israel, and festivals in Chicago, Toronto and more.
His own group, with whom he still plays and records, consists of no less than Ernie Watts on tenor sax, Adrean Farrugia on piano, Adam Nussbaum on drums, and until his recent death, Kelly Sill on bass. He studies African music and is a regular with Paa Kow. He has recorded 19 albums as a leader and I couldn’t even count the number on which he’s a sideman. He has led jazz groups on tours of Asia and the Middle East. In summary, he’s a unique and recognizable trumpet player in demand.
So now we have Brad Goode, a trumpet player, drummer, bass master, and, more than anything, a passionate teacher.
Outside music, he’s an interesting character, too. He loves dogs enough to say that if music disappeared, he’d happily work with dogs. He’s proud to say he has been sober from alcohol and drugs for 36 years. Need I say what a great accomplishment that is?
And for fun, I’ll share with you a little-known story. A friend had a headless Chuck E. Cheese doll. He posed Brad so that his head was the replacement and took a picture. A writer friend was inspired by this red-headed character to develop a new persona and create a script that starred the character “Chucky” who goes around committing bloody murders. It became a horror movie series that has become a classic film franchise which returns this year to both USA Network and Syfy for its third run.
If 19 albums weren’t enough, the next one comes out in February and will be released on Origin Records. It’s titled “The Unknown.” I’m sure you’ll hear it on KUVO, but you should really buy it.
Brad’s main teaching gig for the past 19 years is as an Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. But on Monday nights, he hosts a jam session at the Muse Performance Space where musicians at every level, on every possible instrument, come to have fun and, incidentally, to learn and grow. Audiences are welcome! I hope to see you there some Monday soon!
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