In 2011, Geoff Goodman and his Curiosities of Nature released Jazz + Haiku on Double Moon Records, an album of songs that composer Goodman transposed from Japanese poetry, primarily from 17th and 18th century masters Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, and Kobayashi Issa. The band features Bill Elgart on drums and percussion, Till Martin on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Henning Sieverts on bass, Fjoralba Turku on vocals, Kiyomi on recitations, and band leader Geoff Goodman on guitar.
Tracks include “Short Night,” “Sound of the Wind,” “Bamboo – Introduction,” “Bamboo Children,” “Such a Moon,” “The Loves of a Cat,” “Monkey’s Raincoat,” “The Holes,” “Two Autumns,” “Reprise,” “Inside a Dream,” “Cicada,” and “The Sound of the Bell.”
The album was recorded in May 2010 at Realistic Sound, München, produced by Geoff Goodman and Volker Dueck.
A live version of the “Bamboo Children” haiku performed 8 March 2012 is on YouTube with the same artists from the album except Andi Kurz replaces Henning Sieverts on bass:
The latest incarnation of Geoff Goodman’s Curiosities of Nature ensemble features an international cast of players including Germans Till Martin on tenor saxophone and clarinet and Henning Sieverts on bass, Americans Bill Elgart on drums and Geoff Goodman on guitar, Albanian singer Fjoralba Turku on vocals, and Japanese artist Kiyomi who recites the haikus.
Geoff Goodman recently answered a few questions about how the Jazz + Haiku album came to fruition.
Blue Note: Where did your interest in Japanese haiku come from?
Geoff Goodman: I was thinking about how I could write songs for Fjoralba to sing without writing embarrassing lyrics. I’ve also always been a fan of reduction in many forms, also my playing, my chords, my choice of notes, are often small and few… I was aware of haiku, but never really delved into it. I got a hold of a book and within hours I had written the first three haiku tunes.
BN: How long did it take for this unique project to come together?
GG: I worked about two years developing the program–and I still write haiku tunes for Fjoralba.
A live performance of Geoff Goodman’s “The Holes” haiku is online.
The Holes "the holes in the wall play the flute this autumn evening"
Geoff Goodman’s “The Holes, the eighth cut from Jazz + Haiku, in which Andreas Kurz replaces Henning Sieverts on bass and all the other players are the same as on the album, is on YouTube:
BN: It’s very much an international affair. How did everyone come together for this project?
GG: Through me. Obviously I knew Henning, Bill and Till, and I was also working with Fjoralba. I just had to search awhile for Kiyomi.
BN: Was the Jazz + Haiku album the first time you and Bill Elgart appeared on an album together?
GG: No, we recorded together previously on my Charles Ives’ CD [Alison Welles & Geoff Goodman – Songs Of Charles Ives And Other American Songs (2001)] and on Thomas Zoller’s Songs Close To Silence album on Enja [in 2002].
BN: Did you first meet fellow American Bill Elgart on the East Coast [Elgart was raised in Massachusetts and Goodman in New York]?
GG: We met for the first time in Salzburg [Austria,] Bill was living there and I was passing through with Chris Hirson.
“Fifth Chromosome,” a haiku not found on the album, was performed live in March 2012.
Fifth Chromosome "a door of grass a residence changes for a time a house of dolls the first melon shall it be cut crosswise or in round slices from this day on dew will erase the writing on my hat cotton-beat boll as soothing as a lute behind the bamboo a sky lark sings the pheasant's voice is the instrumental music red more red in spite of the indifferent sun an autumn breeze dew drips drops water to rinse away the dust of this world"
Geoff Goodman’s “Fifth Chromosome” includes all the same musicians in Curiosities of Nature playing on Jazz + Haiku except Fjoralba Turku and Henning Sieverts, the latter replaced on bass by Andreas Kurz:
BN: When did the initial version of Curiosities of Nature form?
GG: Fjoralba and I had the idea to form a band which wasn’t world music and also not totally jazz. I think this was around the summer of 2008. Our first gig was a summer week at the Unterfahrt in München. The program and personnel changed a lot. That December we did a Rundfunk recording where we recorded the first haikus.
BN: Do you have any specific projects coming up with Bill Elgart?
GG: Yes. This fall my duo Metal, Wood and Wire, with Ardhi Engl, is expanding to a quartet with Bill on drums and Sebi Tramontana on trombone. I’m very excited about that.
BN: Are there any more new musical projects you are working on now that you could discuss?
GG: Fjoralba Turku and I just recorded a duo CD for TUTU Records [Strange Things (coming soon in 2014] and there are three haikus on it, one is set to a bluegrass/country style.
The remainder of the exclusive interview with Geoff Goodman, which includes highlights from several of his music-related projects, is located HERE.
Jazz + Haiku is currently available in CD format from major music retailers including Amazon, Discogs, and from Germany’s Double Moon Records via Netherlands’ Challenger Records. A digital version is also available from iTunes in most markets.
Geoff Goodman and the Curiosities of Nature’s “Heard Not Seen,” a non-LP track from Jazz + Haiku performed live in May 2011 featuring Bill Elgart on drums, Henning Sieverts on bass, Fjoralba Turku on vocals, Kiyomi on recitations, Goodman on guitar, and Ulrich Wangenheim in place of Till Martin on saxophone, is on YouTube:
“Strange Things” Digital Single in 2011
Besides recording the 13-track Jazz + Haiku album in 2011, Geoff Goodman and the Curiosities of Nature players, recorded and released a digital-only single the same year, “Strange Things.”
The same composition was revisited by Goodman and Turku on their 2014 At The Middle album on TUTU Records.
The earlier version of “Strange Things,” featuring Bill Elgart on drums, Till Martin on tenor saxophone, Henning Sieverts on bass, Fjoralba Turku on vocals, and Goodman on guitar is currently available at music retailers including iTunes and Amazon.
Geoff Goodman and Fjoralba Turku’s stripped-down version, later renamed “Space Between Us,” is online:
Goodman Quintet Live with Bill Elgart and Henning Sieverts
In 2005, the Geoff Goodman Quintet released the Tall Tales And Dreams album on TUTU Records, featuring Goodman on guitar and banjo, Rudi Mahal on bass clarinet, Peter Perfido on drums and percussion, Henning Sieverts on bass and cello, and Felix Wahnschaffe on alto saxophone.
The following year, the Geoff Goodman Quintet played at Café Ideal in Fulda, Germany, with three members who would later appear on Jazz + Haiku, Henning Sieverts, Bill Elgart, and Goodman. The group’s performances of “Frisch überfallen” and “Anesthesia, Stage One” were recorded and uploaded to the Internet.
A video of the Geoff Goodman Quintet’s playing “Frisch überfallen” live, with Bill Elgart on drums, Goodman on banjo, Rudi Mahal on bass clarinet, Henning Siverts on bass, and Felix Wahnschaffe on alto saxophone, is on YouTube:
Alison Welles and Geoff Goodman with Bill Elgart and Henning Sieverts
In 2001, Alison Welles and Geoff Goodman released Songs of Charles Ives and Other American Songs, a collection of songs featuring Welles on vocals and Goodman on guitar and electric mandolin released on the Musikverlag H. Burger & M. Müller label.
The two native New Yorkers are joined by Henning Sieverts on one track and drummer Bill Elgart from Massachusetts on a pair of cuts.
“Thoreau,” a composition by Charles Ives that includes part of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, with Welles on vocals, Goodman on guitar, Bill Elgart on drums, and Henning Sieverts on bass, is online:
Rosebud Live in 2009 with Till Martin
Geoff Goodman made two albums as a member of the group Rosebud, the Rosebud Trio’s Plays Jazz, Film Music & Cowboy Songs in 2003 and Rosebud Plays The Music Of Newport in 2009.
A live performance by Rosebud in Vienna, Austria in 2009 is online.
Rosebud performing “Josh Thomas’s Roustabout,” with Geoff Goodman on banjo, Johannes Herrlich on trombone, Till Martin on saxophone, and Beate Sampson on vocals, is here:
Goodman-Bordenave Quintet Release Debut Album Inverted Forest
In June 2015, the Goodman-Bordenave Quintet released Inverted Forest album on Double Moon Records. The lineup consists of Matthieu Bordenave on saxophone, Gerhard Gschlößl on trombone, Bastian Jütte on drums, Andreas Kurz on bass, and Geoff Goodman on guitar
A special thanks to Geoff Goodman for allowing this site to create several videos of his group’s music including the following one by the Goodman-Bordenave Quintet.
The Goodman-Bordenave Quintet’s “Here We Are Now,” the tenth track on Inverted Forest, is on YouTube:
Katie Cruel’s The Roving Jewel
In January 2017, Geoff Goodman and Fjoralba Turku released their newest album, Katie Cruel’s The Roving Jewel, an homage to “Katie Cruel,” an American folk song from the 1700s concerning a mysterious woman who did not follow the social mores of the time. The traditional tune, which has been interpreted numerous times in a variety of countries, most likely originated in Scotland.
Katie Cruel, which vocalist Turku and guitarist Goodman have adopted as the name of their duo on the CD and digital download, also features special guests Max Grosch on violin, Till Martin on saxophone, and Andreas Kurz on bass. More information is located at Geoff Goodman’s website including three downloadable tracks: “Katie Cruel,” “I See You,” penned by Roger McGuinn and David Crosby, and “M’ka Mar Malli Per Nenen Time,” a traditional Albanian song.
A live performance of the Katie Cruel Quintet in 2017 features Fjoralba Turku on vocals, Geoff Goodman on guitar, Max Grosch on violin, Till Martin on saxophone, and Andreas Kurz on bass, shot by Lisa Freudenberg:
More from Geoff Goodman
Select Geoff Goodman Discography:
- Katie Cruel (Fjoralba Turku & Geoff Goodman) – The Roving Jewel (2017) Double Moon Records
- Goodman-Bordenave Quintet – Inverted Forest (2015) Double Moon Records
- Geoff Goodman and Fjoralba Turku – At The Middle (2014) Double Moon Records
- Goodman-Turku Duo – Strange Things (2014) TUTU Records
- Geoff Goodman – “Strange Things” (2011) Double Moon Records [Single]
- Geoff Goodman – Jazz + Haiku (2011) Double Moon Records
- Rosebud Plays The Music Of Newport (2009) Enja Records
- Geoff Goodman’s Tabla & Strings – Song Of Nature (2008) TUTU Records
- Geoff Goodman Quintet – Tall Tales And Dreams (2005) TUTU Records
- Rosebud Trio – Plays Jazz, Film Music & Cowboy Songs (2003) Harald Burger & Martin Müller Musikverlag
- Misery Loves Company – Ajar (2002) Laika Records
- Geoff Goodman Quintet – Naked Eye (2000) TUTU Records
- Tabla & Strings – Islands Everywhere (2000) TUTU Records
- Alison Welles & Geoff Goodman – Songs Of Charles Ives And Other American Songs (2000) Harald Burger & Martin Müller Musikverlag
- Le Petit Chien – Woof. (1999) Enja Records
- Misery Loves Company – Magia Ke Miseria (1998) Enja Records
- Hirson/Goodman Duo – Human Lives (1997) Acoustic Music Records
- Hirson/Goodman Quartet – Nudism (1994) Harald Burger & Martin Müller Musikverlag
- Hirson/Goodman Duo – Before & After (1992) Harald Burger & Martin Müller Musikverlag
- Hirson/Goodman Duo – Paint It Blue (1992) Harald Burger & Martin Müller Musikverlag
- Hirson/Goodman Duo – Hirson & Goodman (1987) Harald Burger & Martin Müller Musikverlag
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And a final tune from guitarist Geoff Goodman and vocalist Fjoralba Turku, their live rendition of the 1930’s reefer classic “If You’re a Viper”:
This article initially appeared 11 February 2014 on http://hapsnowswhirlwinds.com, which spawned Bill’s Blue Note as well as sister site http://the6thdimension.com.