Release date: January 13, 2023
Jazz-funk bass extraordinaire Richie Goods and in-demand vibraphonist Chien Chien Lu are expanding their collaborative musical relationship with the upcoming release of Connected, a multi-dimensional, riveting conversation constructed around unity. While offering imagery of love and peace, frequent collaborators Goods and Lu present a dynamic landmark contextualizing unwarranted violence against African American and Asian communities. While bridging the gap between their respective backgrounds, the pair cements their synergistic harmonic sensibilities with the release of Connected.
With Lu on vibes and marimba throughout and Goods splitting his time between electric and upright bass, Connected also includes the all-star contributions of drummer Allan Mednard and guitarist Quintin Zoto. Special guests include vocalists Sy Smith, Jamison Ross and Pastor Dr. Adolfus Lacey, drummers Lil John Roberts and David Frazier Jr, percussionist Danny Sadownick, keyboardist BIGYUKI, Shedrick Mitchell on organ and piano, Brett Williams on keys and rhodes and Mike King on rhodes and organ.
Connected follows several Goods-Lu collusions, including Lu’s tenacious debut leader date, The Path from September 2020 followed by the arrangement “We Three Kings” released two months afterward. Last year, the duo presented the dynamic arrangement “Rain” (December 2021), which tracks as the centerpiece of Connected.
After practicing, writing, and eventually hosting livestream concerts together during the pandemic quarantine, Lu and Goods decided to work together more extensively. With the help of a small grant from NewMusicUSA, the two musicians were able to fund a full-length project.
The pair cites their shared love for groovy music as the impetus of their bonafide creative connection. “Our work together has been the most natural and organic thing I have done in my career,” Goods remarks. The final output is a stunning display of melodic deftness from a thought-provoking and soulful cast of players.
The record commences at the command of guest vocalist Sy Smith with “Water”, effectively washing away distractions from the outside world while Lu establishes herself on a mystical opening solo. Guest keyboardist BIGYUKI creates new and ambient territory on the overwhelmingly buoyant “Embrace the Now” where interplay with Zoto’s mystical guitarscapes guide the listener into surrender. Goods makes a charged solo statement here, grounding himself as a leader while maneuvering listeners through BIGYUKI’s universe.
As a halfway point, “2021 interlude” compliments its precursor tracks, featuring Goods and Lu exclusively while marking Goods’ swap to upright bass. A powerful verbal conversation between the co-leaders overdubs a more melancholic and acoustic musical sound as the two reflect on Asian hate crimes. Matched with Lu’s compassionate anecdotal experience, this duo performance of exclusively vibraphone and bass enhances an intimate moment.
A testament to the power of the record’s namesake, “Rain” links the iconic ‘90s hit from SWV to the roots of its harmonic inspiration: a sample from Jaco Pastorius’ “Portrait of Tracy”. On this chart, Goods plays slowly through the iconic bass melody later augmented by respective and mellow solos from Zoto and Lu. As the groove continues, thunderous and sporadic organ blows from Shedrick Mitchell allow “Rain” to materialize into a calm storm. “Rain Interlude” follows, providing a deeper framework for the inception of this recording.
“Dull Ice Flower” takes its inspiration from a 1989 Taiwanese film based on a novel of the same title. Grappling with social and political issues, the story depicts a talented young artist whose brilliance is not recognized until after he lives. The track confronts this bittersweet tale with full force, offering a powerful and auspicious alternative take. Lil John Roberts and Mike King join the band for an electrifying look at the future.
Taking the Donny Hathaway standard to new heights, “Someday We’ll All Be Free” is perhaps the most resilient piece of the bunch, overflowing with the relief and comfort of guest vocalist Jamison Ross and a solo from Lu evoking a sense of freedom in a humanity void of fear and unhappiness.
Connected closes with “Someday Interlude” providing the didactic point of view of Pastor Adolphus Lacey. Guiding listeners toward an equitable future, Pastor Lacey’s commandement implores listeners to embrace a future world where race, politics, gender identification and religion cease to exist as obstacles. With a closing message so deeply personal to Lu and Goods, Connected is both a chronicle of an ardent creative accord and a vision for a more harmonious future that any listener has the power to conceive.
J. MICHAEL HARRISON
"Goods and Lu recently expressed to me how the name of their collaboration stems from spending time together in lockdown.." Check out the piece here.
MAKING A SCENE
"Goods and Lu have craftily blended jazz and R&B to deliver a provocative statement with a gentle ambience that speaks to the peaceful world they long for." Read the review here.
“Beyond the foundational 'Rain,' Goods and Lu flesh out their vision with a unique mix of original tracks and theme-appropriate re-imaginings..” Read the feature story here.