How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
We still have a few weeks before he hear Auld Lang Syne, but I'm going to vote early. I hold in my hands the Album of the Year.
XXL is the Big Phat Band's second album. Its first, Swingin' For the Fences, was nominated for two Grammys two years ago. Composer/arranger Gordon Goodwin has won three Emmys for his work on cartoons. He formed the band as a studio unit, but it now performs twice a month in the Los Angeles area.
XXL features a number of guests. Johnny Mathis stops the show on (no kidding) "Let the Good Times Roll." Take 6 contribute their Singers Unlimited sound to "It's All Right With Me," and back up Brian McKnight on "Comes Love." Michael Brecker gives his very recognizable solo to "A Game of Inches." Eddie Daniels contributes clarinet solos to Mozart's "40th Symphony in G Minor" and the Goodwin original "Thad Said No," which is a reference to the fact that Thad Jones would not let Daniels take a clarinet solo when he was a member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra.
All of the remaining songs are Goodwin compositions. The bluesy shuffle "High Maintenance" is reminiscent of Stan Kenton's "Intermission Riff," featuring Eric Marienthal on alto sax and Andy Martin on trombone. "Hunting Wabbits" is Goodwin's tribute to Carl Stalling, who wrote the music for Looney Tunes cartoons. "The Quiet Corner" is meant to evoke early Herbie Hancock with a mellow vibe and softer textures. The Latin piece "Horn of Puente" is dedicated to the late Tito Puente and features Wayne Bergeron, whom Goodwin calls "clearly the best lead trumpet player in LA." "The Jazz Police" reminds me of the soundtrack of The Man From UNCLE. It's a nod to Quincy Jones, Hank Mancini and the 60's cop-rock genre. "What Sammy Said" is a slow Basie-style blues, dedicated to Sammy Nestico.
XXL is available on both CD and DVD-Audio. ( Swingin' For The Fences was the first commercially-available DVD-Audio.) The DVD offers 5.1 surround sound, videos of the recording sessions, additional liner notes and artist quotes, browse-able photos and the ability to isolate instruments on four of the tracks.
Visit www.gordongoodwin.com for more information. I note that the ladies tank top featured on the album cover is only available in size large!!
Track Listing: 1. High Maintenance
2. A Game of Inches
3. Comes Love
4. Thad Said No
5. Hunting Wabbits
6. The Quiet Corner
7. Horn of Puente
8. It's All Right With Me
9. The Jazz Police
10. Mozart's 40the Symphony in G Minor
11. What Sammy Said
12. Let the Good Times Roll
Personnel: Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band:
Gordon Goodwin (piano, saxophones, arrangements);
Eric Marienthal, Sal Lozano, Brian Scanlon, Jeff Driskill, Jay Mason, John Yoakum (woodwinds);
Wayne Bergeron, Dan Fornero, Bob Summers, Stan Martin, Dan Savant, Pete De Siena, Larry Hall
Andy Martin, Alex Iles, Steve Holtman, Charlie Morillas, Nick Lane (trombones);
Craig Ware (bass trombone)
Richard Shaw (ac. bass and elec. bass)
Grant Geissman, Carl Verheyen (guitar)
Bernie Dressel, Ray Brinker, Peter Erskine (drums)
Luis Conte (percussion)