Born: 1955 Primary Instrument: Composer/conductor/leader
GORDON GOODWIN As winner of the 2006 Grammy Award for his Instrumental Arrangement of Incredits from the Pixar film The Incredibles, as well as three-time Emmy Award winner and five-time Grammy nominee, you would think that Goodwin had fulfilled his dreams and achieved all of his goals. Not by a long shot. He has yet another channel for success as leader of L.A.’s most exciting 18-piece big band jazz ensemble, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.
The Big Phat Band has quickly become one of the most hard swinging large jazz ensembles, comprised of L.A.’s finest musicians, which celebrates and personifies the best of the big band tradition with a very contemporary and original sound. Gordon’s witty and insightful arrangements propel the listener on a journey through a myriad of styles: latin, blues, swing, classical, hard-hitting jazz, and even an homage to Looney Tunes (!).
Established in 2000, the band’s debut recording, Swingin’ For The Fences, (Silverline Records) featured guests such as Arturo Sandoval, Eddie Daniels and made history as the first commercially available DVD audio title ever released and the first DVD audio title to receive two Grammy nominations.
Goodwin’s second album XXL (Silverline Records) was released on DVD-Audio and compact disc in 2003, charting its first week. XXL garnered three Grammy nominations for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, Best Instrumental Composition (Hunting Wabbits) and Best Instrumental Arrangement with Vocals (Comes Love with Brian McKnight and Take 6), while winning the Surround Sound Award for Best Made for Surround Sound Title. The list of guest artists repeated the high quality of the first release and featured, among others, Johnny Mathis and the incomparable Michael Brecker.
June 13th, 2006 marks the release of the composer/arranger’s third album The Phat Pack (Immergent Records) with guest stars Dianne Reeves, David Sanborn, Eddie Daniels and Take 6. The Phat Pack continues Gordon’s quest for the music he’s been hearing in his head since childhood.
This team of players is taking all of us on a ride through Gordon’s synapses, formed by years of listening to the giants of jazz, pop, rock and funk. Gordon’s love for bands such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Buddy Rich, Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, Earth, Wind and Fire, Tower of Power and more gave him the intricate foundation for the hard driving sound we hear today.
It is his ability to combine traditional jazz excellence with any musical style that makes his writing appealing to fans of even the most extreme forms of music. It is a rare and amazing thing to know that headbangers and be-boppers agree in their praise of Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.
Throughout his career, Gordon Goodwin has built a larger- than-life reputation for his composing, arranging, and musical instrumentation skills. Ray Charles, Christina Aguilera, Johnny Mathis, Toni Braxton, John Williams, Natalie Cole, David Foster, Sarah Vaughn, Mel Torme, Brian McKnight and Quincy Jones are just a few of the artists he has written for, recorded and performed with. Goodwin has conducted with world-renowned symphony orchestras in Atlanta, Dallas, Utah, Seattle, Toronto and London.
Working within the television and film industry, his cinematic scoring and orchestration craft can be heard on such films as Glory Road, National Treasure, The Incredibles, Remember The Titans, Armageddon, Bad Boys II, The Majestic, Con Air, Gone in 60 Seconds, Enemy of the State, Star Trek Nemesis, the classic cult film Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and the upcoming Bah Hum Duck! A Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck riff on the classic, A Christmas Carol with Gordon and the Big Phat Band’s unmistakable sound!
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. Goodwin is an engaging
MC, informal without getting smarmy, and the band’s
entrance in particular was a lot of fun: the rhythm section set
up a vamp, over which Goodwin introduced the rest of
musicians as they ran on stage one by one, almost like
announcing the starting lineup at a sporting event.
(St. Louis Jazz Notes.)
Bah Humduck: A Loony Tunes Christmas
Star Trek, Nemesis
Spy Kids 2
Gone In Sixty Seconds
Deep Blue Sea
Enemy of the State
The Mighty Ducks 2
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
My Brother's War (Dir. James Brolin)
Gordon Goodwin "Swingin' For the Fences" Silverline
Gordon Goodwin "Close To the Edge" Nova
Simone "Loca" Polygram
Johnny Mathis/Henry Mancini "The Hollywood Musicals" CBS
Johnny Mathis "Mathis Sings Ellington" CBS
The Hi-Lo's "Here and Now" Pausa
Perri "Trade Winds" MCA
Grant Geissman "Time Will Tell" Mesa Blue Moon
Grant Geissman "Flying Colors" Mesa Blue Moon
Grant Geissman "Choices" Mesa Blue Moon
Grant Geissman "All My Tomorrows" TBA
Grant Geissman "Snapshots" TBA
Grant Geissman "Drinking From The Money River" TBA
Grant Geissman "Put Away Childish Toys" Pausa
Grant Geissman "Good Stuff" Concord
Les Hooper & the Grand Band "Anything Goes" ITI
Tom Kubis Big Band "Slightly Off the Ground" Sea Breeze
Louis Bellson "Live at the Concord Jazz Festival" Concord
Louis Bellson "Note Smoking" Concord
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