Trombonist Eric Goletz, an in-demand studio musician and sideman in New York City for three decades, released his first album as leader of his own ensemble in March 2021, and quickly followed with the second, A New Light, wherein his core octet is bolstered by three trumpets, half a dozen horns and a five-member string section. Among his more well-known teammates are trumpeter Randy Brecker, pianist Jim Ridl, keyboardist Allen Farnham and drummer Steve Johns.
Goletz' musical persona is clearly upbeat, and after a brief "Prelude," he and the ensemble get right down to business, galloping briskly through the emphatic title tune. While much of the session proceeds in that vein, there are exceptions: Goletz' more even-tempered "Enchanted," Jonathan Butler's ardent "Song for Elizabeth" and Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick's dreamy "Sunrise, Sunset" from the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof (even here, Goletz can't resist accelerating the tempo midstream to lend the anthem more muscle). Goletz wrote everything else save Miles Davis' "Dig" (a thinly disguised "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," or so it sounds). As noted, most everything cooks, from "Edge of Night" and "Greene Street Groove" to "Don't Gimme That!" and "The Mirror." The ensemble closes the session with a dynamic brass-heavy "Postlude" (sans rhythm section) reminiscent of Leonard Bernstein's memorable orchestral works.
As a player, Goletz favors the higher register (think Bill Watrous), and like the peerless Frank Rosolino, uses every trick in the trombone player's handbook to make his point. Unlike Rosolino, however, Goletz doesn't clip or sunder notes or phrases as only Rosolino could but blends them together in a more customary manner. While Goletz and Brecker take the lion's share of solos, there are cogent statements by Heinitsch (whose style is an acquired taste), Ridl and Farnham. Goletz is a splendid writer too, and every number on the album has its moments of charm and pleasure. It's good that Goletz has chosen to help ensure that his music becomes more widely known by adopting a more conspicuous persona; it suits him well.