303

Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band: The Phat Pack

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band: The Phat Pack The suave and irrepressible Rat Pack, whose urbane image was shrewdly nurtured for so many years by Ol' Blue Eyes, meistersinger Frank Sinatra himself, is no longer with us. Luckily, we have as partial solace The Phat Pack, the convivial third recording by jack-of-all-trades Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band. Goodwin bows respectfully to his illustrious predecessors by reprising two songs closely associated with members of the Rodent Gang, Sinatra's "It Was a Very Good Year" and Sammy Davis Jr.'s "Too Close for Comfort," also appending an evocative title song that could have served as the Pack's overture in a cabaret or concert hall.

One of the more engaging aspects of any album by Goodwin's exemplary ensemble is that one never knows quite what to expect from moment to moment as the music veers in a heartbeat from straight-ahead swing to funk, Latin, neo-hip shuffle and back again—not to mention such wild anomalies as "Hunting Wabbits 2," Goodwin's quirky salute to Elmer Fudd and those incomparable Warner Bros. cartoons from the '40s and '50s (for "Hunting Wabbits 1," see the BPB's previous album, XXL).

Needless to say, the all-star band is razor-keen throughout, lending power and charisma to Goodwin's personable compositions and charts. Soloists aren't named, but that has to be Eric Marienthal's nimble soprano on "Wabbits," his aggressive alto on "Get in Line" and "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes," Andy Martin's supple trombone on "Tomatoes," Wayne Bergeron's screaming trumpet on "La Alma Pequena (The Little Clam)." That's ironic, as clams are almost never a part of Bergeron's musical diet.

As usual, Goodwin has invited several well-known guest artists to sit in, and all of them are superb. Vocalist Dianne Reeves positively nails "Too Close for Comfort," alto David Sanborn is suitably raunchy on "Play That Funky Music," ace clarinetist Eddie Daniels burns rubber on the grueling "Under the Wire," and the vocal group Take 6 takes charge on "It Was a Very Good Year." Another Goodwin staple is the patriotic finale, in this case the poignant "Ever Braver, Ever Stronger (An American Elegy)."

So much to say, so little space remaining. Highlights (besides those already mentioned) include "Cut 'n Run," "Count Bubba's Revenge," "Whodunnit?" Well, let's be honest. Everything else. And it should be noted that the disc is accompanied by a DVD with soundtrack, photos, lyrics and other extras. Alas, I was unable to play my copy, as it requires a compatible Direct Show DVD player, which I don't have. As Sinatra would have intoned, "That's Life."

Goodwin's debut album, Swingin' for the Fences, was Grammy-nominated, XXL earned one (in a minor category), and if this isn't a leading contender for the top big band prize, I'll eat broccoli (yuck!) with my supper (please don't tell my wife I said that).


Track Listing: Cut n Run; Too Close for Comfort; Count Bubbas Revenge; Play That Funky Music; The Phat Pack; Hunting Wabbits 2 (A Bad Hare Day); La Almeja Pequena (The Little Clam); Get in Line; Attack of the Killer Tomatoes; Under the Wire; Whodunnit?; It Was a Very Good Year; Ever Braver, Ever Stronger (An American Elegy) (75:11).

Personnel: Gordon Goodwin: leader, composer, arranger, piano, tenor saxophone; Wayne Bergeron, Dan Fornero, Bob Summers, Dan Savant, Pete DeSiena (4,6,12): trumpet; Eric Marienthal: alto, soprano saxophone, flute; Sal Lozano: alto saxophone, flute, piccolo; Brian Scanlon, Jeff Driskill: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Jay Mason: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Andy Martin, Alex Iles, Charlie Morillas, Craig Ware, Craig Gosnell (2): trombone; Grant Geissman, Carl Verheyen (4): guitar; Rick Shaw: acoustic, electric bass; Bernie Dresel, Ray Brinker (10,11,13): drums; Luis Conte, Brad Dutz (4,6,12): percussion. Special guests: Diane Reeves (2): vocal; David Sanborn (4): alto saxophone; Eddie Daniels (10): clarinet; Take 6 (12): vocal.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Immergent Records | Style: Big Band


Shop

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Heartaches By The Number" CD/LP/Track Review Heartaches By The Number
by James Nadal
Published: May 13, 2016
Read "Proximity" CD/LP/Track Review Proximity
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 7, 2016
Read "June" CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Symmetry" CD/LP/Track Review Symmetry
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 22, 2016
Read "Open The Curtains" CD/LP/Track Review Open The Curtains
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 16, 2016
Read "Rubicon" CD/LP/Track Review Rubicon
by John Kelman
Published: July 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!