Jazz Weekly

Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion:

Three Rivers

by George W. Harris • April 30, 2015

Are any of you old enough out there when “fusion” was the latest and most exciting trend in music? At one time, bands like Return To Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report attracted fans of both jazz and rock, filling places like the Hollywood Bowl and Greek Theatre. Then, a chap by the name of Wynton Marsalis came along and literally pulled the plug on fusion, going back to acoustic sounds like Miles Davis circa ESP. Where did we go wrong? Bassist and composer Richie Goods reminds us of all the fun and funk that 70s fusion brought us. There’s a key team of Billy Kilson/dr (who worked with Dave Holland), Andy Ezrin/key and Ben Butler/g that get you on your feet with a backbeat on ”Mudd Funk.” Interspersed between tunes like that, the mellow “Cosmic Beauty” and the gorgeous “Four Kings” which features Chris Botti’s glistening horn are short vignettes that spotlight Goods on acoustic bass, most notably on an electric take of John Lennon’s “Imagine” while some vocals by Shayna Steele on “Sightless Bird” and “Sy Smith on “Hope She’ll Be Happier” round out the spherically deep album. The music here is a great mix of rhythm and solos, neither one overpowering the other. Isn’t that the purpose of jazz?



CD Review: Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion “Three Rivers”


April 14, 2015

Richie Goods and Nuclear Fusion, THREE RIVERS (Richman Music)

Veteran New York doubler and Chris Botti Band mainstay Richie Goods taps into the power of ’70s jazz-rock and his Pittsburgh roots for his spirited debut studio album. “Soul Glow” sets the plucky parameters with a metal–funk merge, followed by the unison-riffing title track. “Four Kings” (featuring Botti) and a wellchosen cover of the Bill Withers ballad “Hope She’ll Be Happier” up the melodic quotient, while Tears For Fears’ “Shout”—radically recast as a boogie burner—and the dark, exploratory “Epic” also stand out. An added plus: the fierce drumming of Billy Kilson throughout.

CD Reviews: March 12, 2015

By Eric Saeger

Richie Goods and Nuclear Fusion, Three Rivers (Richman Music)

Goods is a Pittsburgh Jazz Hall of Fame bass player whose tour credits include Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera, this after studying under legendary Blue Note guy Ron Carter in New York. The line on his original stuff would have you expecting mellower fusion a la Spyro Gyra, but what I heard here — save for funked-up ballad appearances from singers Shayna Steele and Sy Smith (“Sightless Bird”; “Hope She’ll Be Happier”) — was a modernized Return to Forever, not so modernized if you consider the outright hard rock workouts in the title track. Opener “Soul Glow” has a suspended-animation riff that proves he can restrain himself from going all-out Pelican-metal, but the desire is there, telling from every plonk of his Rickenbacker as well as the volatile sounds of guitarist Ben Butler, a real treasure who punches up every guitar sound from Al di Meloa to Blue Oyster Cult on that one track alone. Not that this is a repressed metal thing, no — “Cosmic Beauty” comes off like Relayer-era Yes, and there’s a wildly complicated version of Tears for Fears’s “Shout” that makes for a great knuckler. A- — Eric W. Saeger


Richie Goods And Nuclear Fusion:


By David Wayne

February 27, 2015


“…there are still only a few musicians doing all-original “old school” high energy jazz-rock fusion. Bassist and composer Richie Goods is one of these brave souls. His latest album, Three Rivers—with a superb band he’s dubbed Nuclear Fusion in tow—is a generous slab of in-your-face funky jazz-rock that takes you back to the mid-1970s in the best possible way. The title track is a great example. It’s got a tricky odd time signature, crunchy rock drumming, weird keyboard sounds, a throbbing bass line, and a stinging, fuzzed-out guitar solo.

Goods does more than write the tunes and maintain a funky bottom end. He plays a lot of finger-popping, thumb-slapping lead bass in the style of Stanley Clarke and Gerald Veasley and his solos are consistently engaging and interesting. Not one to leave any stylistic stone unturned, Three Rivers also features four brief pieces featuring Goods’ acoustic bass work. One of these is a lovely cover version of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” His band is sharp and on-the-money. Guitarist Ben Butler and keyboardist Andy Ezrin, both previously unknown to me, have chops to burn and a firm grasp of the demands of Goods’ eclectic jazz-rock-funk style. I last heard drumming dynamo Billy Kilson in Tim Hagans’ Animation Imagination and David Holland’s quintet. Since then, he’s been leading his own group, BK Groove, and working with Robin Eubanks, Chris Botti, and Paula Cole.

Botti guests on one track here, “Four Kings,” a funky slow-burn that suits his Miles Davis-influenced trumpet style quite nicely. “Mudd Funk” more than lives up to its name, with Goods’ lead bass sharing the melody with organist Sheldrick Mitchell as the famed hip-hop drummer (and occasional Snarky Puppy member) Lil’ John Roberts provides a strutting backbeat. R&B influences crop up on the tracks featuring vocalists Sy Smith and Shayna Steele. “Sightless Bird,” and “Hope She’ll Be Happier” are tender ballads. Both have that Gospel touch, yet the performances of Smith and Steele are refreshingly restrained and soulful. “Epic” couldn’t be more different; a heavy, complex jazz-rock piece featuring Kilson’s crackling drums and Andy Ezrin’s mellow Rhodes, Carolyn Leonhart’s wordless vocal is used as a melodic lead in unison with Goods’ bass. The band’s version of “Shout” by Tears for Fears is completely off the wall. Played as a samba in double time, the band takes the piece into some completely unexpected places.

Track Listing: Soul Glow; Three Rivers; Cosmic Beauty; Richman Unplugged #1; Four Kings; Shout; Sightless Bird; Richman Unplugged #2; Mudd Funk; Hope She’ll Be Happier; Richman Unplugged #3; Epic; Imagine.

Personnel: Richie Goods: electric bass, fretless bass, acoustic bass, synthesizer, keyboards; Billy Kilson (1-3, 5-7,10,12), Lil’ John Roberts (9): drums; Ben Butler (1-3, 5-7, 9,10,12), Jeff Lockhart (1), Leonardo Amuedo (10): guitar; Andy Ezrin: Rhodes, synth ( 1-3, 5- 7,10,12); Sheldrick Mitchell: Hammond B-3 (9-10); Chris Botti: trumpet (5); Shayna Steele (7), Sy Smith (10), Carolyn Leonhart (12): vocals.


Richie Goods and Nuclear Fusion/ THREE RIVERS/Independent Release

By Chris Cooke 91.5 KIOS Omaha Public Radio

It is a delight to hear once again from bassist Richie Goods in the follow up to his Nuclear Fusion project of some years ago. And Three Rivers is very satisfying, on many levels. This second chapter sees the bassist in the excellent company of drummer Billy Kilson, guitarist Ben Butler, keyboardist and composer Andy Ezrin with vocalists Shayna Steele and Sy Smith. From the opener “Soul Glow” the Pittsburgh native sets the stage for some exciting and electrifying jazz perfect for late night listening. Thirteen selections are presented, including an emotional reading of “Imagine” and an up-tempo presentation of “Shout”, famously made a hit by Tears for Fears in the 1980s.

Richie Goods is the youngest person ever inducted into the Pittsburgh Jazz Hall of Fame. After graduating from the prestigious jazz program at Berklee College of Music, Goods moved to New York City, where he studied under jazz legends Ron Carter and Ray Brown. Goods also toured and recorded with the great Mulgrew Miller for nine years. This association brought him to the attention of many notable jazz artists which gave him the opportunity to record and perform with a “who’s who” of jazz and pop music.

Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion have a true gem of a recording in Three Rivers that, while pursuing the cosmic funk first explored by Herbie Hancock and his bands in the 1970s, gives it a 21st Century update and dynamic groove. Fantastic!



Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion: Live At The Zinc Bar


February 5, 2009

Often, when a jazz artist goes old-school, the style emulates some traditional mode, be it big band, swing or piano-led trio. However, old-school can also apply to fusion. That’s where bassist Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion come in.

Goods has the distinction of being the youngest person ever inducted into the Pittsburgh Jazz Hall of Fame. His associations include the Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band, Mulgrew Miller, Russell Malone, The Manhattan Transfer, Stanley Turrentine and pop acts like DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera. Nuclear Fusion is comprised of Goods on bass, Helen Sung on keyboards, Mike Clark on drums and Jeff Lockhart on guitar. Live at the Zinc Bar features the unit in Goods’ first recording as a leader, recorded in New York.

After a free-spirited introduction, a familiar melody emerges. Wayne Shorter’s “Elegant People” is given a balanced treatment; while performed in similar style to the Weather Report version, the delivery is different. The highlight is Sung’s keyboards play—a touch of Joe Zawinul meets Hiromi Uehara. Throughout, Goods, Lockhart and Clark jam with intensity and the band is tight. Sung enjoys an extended solo that’s all her own, while the background rhythm maintains the beat that identifies the song.

Goods solos on the ethereal “Desert Song intro,” leading into “Desert Song,” one of only two original songs (a longer version ends the set). Sung is out front, but Goods and Clark are very strong, with Lockhart’s presence also felt, but more subtly. Sung’s intense solo is on par with classic fusion efforts by the likes of Joe Sample, Chick Corea and Zawinul.

“King Jaffe Joffer,” the other original, begins with Clark performing a march. When the other instruments come in, the song takes on an adventurous feel. Though Sung carries the melody, Goods seems to be as dominant. As is often the case with fusion, each musician seems to be in a different zone, yet still connected with one another. During a soft passage, Goods leads; Lockhart also solos.

In addition to “Elegant People,” the group also covers songs by Lenny White, Antonio Newman and two by Herbie Hancock. Still, it doesn’t sound like a covers album. That makes the difference between simply performing songs they love and doing something interesting with them. Live at the Zinc Bar is a powerful debut for Goods.

Track Listing: Elegant People; Sorceress; Desert Song intro; Desert Song; Snake Oil; King Jaffe Joffer; Sly; Palm Grease; Desert Song (long version).

Personnel: Richie Goods: bass; Helen Sung: keyboards; Mike Clark: drums; Jeff Lockhart: guitar.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: RichMan Productions |



“Richie Goods proves he understands first generation fusion, knows what works best, and brings it all together on his debut as a recording leader, Live at the Zinc Bar. Goods does not try to reinvent old school 1970s-era fusion, nor does he slavishly copy what has come previously. Instead, the ensemble imparts an individual accent to the modern-day proceedings, while Goods and his quartet evoke the glory days of jazz fusion, avoiding the commercialized pitfalls that plagued far too many releases issued during the flared jeans era…” Doug Simpson


Detroit Jazz Festival 09/05/11 • By Russ Davis

”… Richie is an aggressive, young bassist with great credentials, from Pittsburgh to Berklee to New York City. He’s studied with Ron Carter and Ray Brown and loves all forms of jazz but as he told me, “Nobody’s playing this music too much!” The music he was talking about is electric funk and fusion for the 21st century. He wasn’t going to get any argument from me as I love this stuff as much as, if not more than, any form of jazz that has ever existed… At times I felt like I was hearing what Jimi Hendrix might be doing were he alive today. Other times I felt I was hearing what Return To Forever in their classic quartet configuration might sound like if Stanley Clarke were the leader. The crowd, and I, loved it… JAZZ TIMES

Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion

Live at the Zinc Bar

(Richman Productions)    

Review by Brad Walseth

This satisfying live set by a group of talented modern musicians lives up to its name by presenting a stellar set list of well-played jazz fusion classics, along with two originals in similar vein, written by bassist/bandleader Goods. The Pittsburgh-raised bassist graduated from Berklee, studied with Ron Carter and Ray Brown, and has been working with top names in jazz, pop and hip-hop ever since. But, as is clear from his debut album as a leader, Goods has a soft spot in his heart for the era when players like Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius brought the electric bass into the spotlight as a full-fledged solo instrument.

The band kicks into things with a spicy version of Wayne Shorter’s “Elegant People.” This Weather Report gem is funked up a bit and features Helen Sung’s electronic keyboards, Mike Clark’s feisty drumming and Jeff Lockhart’s fiery guitar along with their leader’s solid, powerhouse bass riffs. The fun continues with a version of Return to Forever drummer Lenny White’s “Sorceress,” reminding listeners that for all the bad press the era received, there was some exciting music coming from groups like Weather Report, RTF and Tony Williams’ Lifetime (also covered here on “Snake Oil”). The music is played accurately where it counts, but the players are allowed the freedom to add their own stylistic touches, especially on their solos, and all come through with flying colors. Sung’s keys remind one of Chick, Herbie and Joe, but she gets her own sounds, and Lockhart has a great sound that is all his own as well, utilizing electronics with his guitar, without simply aping people like Allan Holdsworth or Al DiMeola.

Goods’ two originals fit in nicely in the mixture. Two versions of the slinky “Desert Song” are included, and both are worth hearing, as is his other composition, “King Jaffe Joffer.” And two Herbie Hancock compositions (“Sly” and “Palm Grease”) are also included – not surprising, since Goods is a current member of The Headhunters. Throughout, the bassist’s playing is a model of the best of the (4-string) bass playing of that era. Recommended for fans of the fusion era, although some may just want break the old vinyl out to hear the originals, but there is enough originality in the presentation to make this release worthy, and it may serve as an introduction for younger listeners to discover that the ’70s were not the wasteland of jazz that many would have you believe.


Jazz Times

Published 04/01/2009   By Bill Milkowski

Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion: Live at the Zinc Bar


The reliably swinging straight-ahead bassist Richie Goods dives headfirst into the fusion flames on this excellent outing with Headhunters drummer Mike Clark, keyboardist Helen Sung and guitarist Jeff Lockhart. Clark is in peak form here, showcasing his hybrid jazz-funk style on hard-hitting renditions of Wayne Shorter’s “Elegant People,” Lenny White’s “Sorceress” and two Herbie Hancock Headhunters tunes, “Sly” and the supremely syncopated “Palm Grease.” Sung steps out of her piano comfort zone and gets adventurous on clavinet, Fender Rhodes and synths while Lockhart provides plenty of fretboard flash, particularly on the Tony Williams Lifetime staple “Snake Oil.” Goods distinguishes himself as a formidable soloist and groovemeister, in the tradition of electric bass pioneers Stanley Clarke and Paul Jackson Jr.



 “Richie Goods is non-stop with that bass. His flow, his determination, his body movements, his facial expressions…he is a whole package of funky fusion bass playing and I fell in love with his sound and energy. Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion: Live at The Zinc Bar!!… It is gorgeous and fun and pretty and full of funky fusion vibes. I encourage you all to buy it.”