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Gordon Goodwin

Even for a successful composer and arranger in Hollywood, Gordon Goodwin’s numbers are impressive: A 2006 GRAMMY Award for his Instrumental Arrangement of “Incredits” from the Pixar film The Incredibles, three Emmy Awards, and thirteen GRAMMY nominations.

Here’s another impressive number to add to the list: eighteen. As in the number of musicians in Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, one of the most exciting large jazz ensembles on the planet. Populated by L.A.’s finest players, the Big Phat Band takes the big band tradition into the new millennium with a contemporary, highly original sound featuring Goodwin’s witty, intricate, and hard-swinging compositions in a veritable grab bag of styles: swing, Latin, blues, classical, rock and more.

A steady, persistent audio diet of the giants of jazz, pop, rock and funk has nourished Goodwin’s being since childhood. Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Buddy Rich, Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Tower of Power, among many others, filled the well for the music his band makes today. And like those other bands, Goodwin’s music is nothing less than astonishing when experienced live.

Goodwin’s ability to combine jazz excellence with any musical style makes his writing appealing to fans across the spectrum. That’s why both beboppers and headbangers dig Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.

Established in 2000, the Big Phat Band’s debut recording, Swingin’ For The Fences (Silverline Records), featured guest artists Arturo Sandoval and Eddie Daniels. It made history as the first commercially available DVD-Audio title ever released and the first DVD-Audio title to receive two GRAMMY nominations.

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“The Big Phat Band provides potent testimony to the sheer exhilaration of big band jazz…a combination of crisp accuracy and fiery soloing.” (Don Heckman, LA Times.)

Big Phat Band Review
Comprised mostly of little-known but highly capable West Coast studio musicians ex-Chuck Mangione guitarist Grant Geissman was the most recognizable name the Big Phat Band delivered Goodwin’s charts with unflagging energy and an appropriately professional polish. Trombonist Andy Martin and tenor saxophonist Brian Scanlon stood out among the soloists; trumpeter Rick Sorenson skillfully supplied the high note work; and drummer Bernie Dresel proved adept at powering the 18-member ensemble through a variety of grooves.

As for Goodwin, his piano playing was mostly setup and punctuation, though he did show off some nice chops during one brief solo on “Swinging For The Fences” (an extended reimagining of “Sweet Georgia Brown”), and even picked up a tenor sax for a swinging chorus on “Count Bubba’s Revenge”.

As a composer/arranger, he seems still in the process of assimilating his various influences, but nevertheless is capable of some inventive and colorful writing - one standout example being the sax section feature that opened “Hunting Wabbits,” a tribute to the Warner Brothers cartoon scores that featured the music of composer Carl Stalling. ”High Maintenance” was an effective concert opener, the sort of chart that used to be called a “flag waver,” and “El Macho Muchacho” was a piquant cross-border blend of salsa, samba and country guitar licks from Geissman.

Goodwin also did a nice job expanding his slight theme for the film Attack of The Killer Tomatoes into a full-length big band piece, morphing it into an evocative minor-key blues. Less successful was a superfluous cover version of “Play That Funky Music,” which seemed to exist mostly to give alto saxophonist Sal Lozano a chance to show off a frantic pastiche of Dave Sanborn and Maceo Parker licks.

Overall, the Big Phat Band is a slick outfit that puts on an entertaining show, and other jazz groups might even learn a bit from their presentational style

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The Reset

From: The Reset
By Gordon Goodwin



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