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Prize will help guitarist launch career

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Alex Goodman’s hastily recorded entry won him a spot in the semifinals of the Montreux Jazz Festival’s guitar competition, which he eventually won.

DAMIEN RICHARD / MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL Enlarge Image

Alex Goodman’s hastily recorded entry won him a spot in the semifinals of the Montreux Jazz Festival’s guitar competition, which he eventually won.

ALEX Goodman was the first Canadian to win the Montreux Jazz Festival’s guitar competition earlier this month.

The former Torontonian, now living in New York City, won first prize and the public’s choice award at the worldrenowned annual Swiss festival.

Goodman had been aware of the competition for a number of years, he said in an interview, and "I thought it would be a good fit this year."

So, as is often the case, he recorded his audition tunes into his iPhone recorder with little time to spare and made the semifinals, one of 10 guitarists from places such as Poland, Russia, the United States and the Netherlands, Goodman said from Toronto, where he was visiting family and friends.

His July 5 semifinal performance was enough to get him into the finals against two other guitarists the next day.

"Pretty much everyone was playing electric guitar," said Goodman, who performed in a trio during both stages of the competition.

"It was really interesting: Some guitarists were from a straight-ahead jazz background, while some had a rock/fusion approach," he adds.

His competition in the finals were musicians from Colombia and Israel (a guitarist now living in Boston).

One of the aims of the competition is "helping people to launch careers," Goodman says, and holding the contest during the festival gives the participants exposure to a lot of jazz fans, musicians and industry representatives.

The 26-year-old musician won 5,000 Swiss francs (roughly C$6,000), four days of recording in a Swiss studio and trip/tour to Azerbaijan, Goodman says. It includes some future performance opportunities at Montreux.

"There’s a good chance I’ll be there next year," adds the graduate of the University of Toronto and the Manhattan School of Music.

"Since there are so few things that actually recognize artists on an international level, winning brings a certain level of authenticity to your music," Goodman says.

"That is helpful in getting performances around the world when trying to do things on your own.

"When artists look for new venues, festivals (to perform at), this helps you crack into higher levels of music. You’re just moving forward," he says.

The guitarist has released four albums as a leader. His most recent, Etudes for solo guitar, which includes 10 etudes and a number of improvisations, is "contrapuntal, a bit of a classical thing."

He plans to release an accompanying book later this year. His other CDs are Bridges (2011), Convergence (2009) and Roots (2007).

The bassist Charlie Haden died July 11, and longtime collaborator and friend pianist Keith Jarrett has posted a farewell on his official Facebook page. Here is an excerpt: "So… Charlie… what can I say? The bass became the bass again in your hands, after all the players who thought they were making it hipper, while they were also making it more synthetic and metallic and harsh and cold… You wrapped yourself around the bass while you played; inhabited it, made love to it; and those of us who heard you and played with you heard that...

"People will always love his playing but no one will ever imitate him. He was a rare, true original. Perfect intonation, the biggest ears, the warmest, most captivating tone in the history of the jazz bass; and ALWAYS musical. And I never had a better partner on a project for his honest input and deep understanding of our intentions in choosing the tracks for Jasmine and Last Dance.

"Love You, Man."

 

chris.smith@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 28, 2014 D5

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