Monday, January 26, 2009

CD Review: Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band Act Their Age

Grammy Award winning arranger-composer-bandleader Gordon Goodwin returns with his "Big Phat Band" to bring us his newest acclaimed album, "Act Your Age". The album was released in the Fall of 2008 and has been nominated for three Grammy Awards including "Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album". It also features guest appearances by some of the biggest names in jazz.

The albums leads off with the energetic song "Hit The Ground Running". It features a solo by Eric Marienthal on alto sax. The song is also nominated for a Grammy in the "Best Instrumental Composition" category. The next five songs on the album are all cover songs. Starting with Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man". Gordon Goodwin takes this original 5-piece band song and blows up the sound for his big band. Gordon Goodwin's piano solo is what turns this song into one of his own. Earth, Wind & Fire's "September" features Patti Austin on vocals and Lee Ritenour on guitar. It is a very straight-forward remake of the song. Another Grammy nominated song on this album is for the Art Tatum original, "Yesterdays". The song is up for "Best Instrumental Arrangement". The piano playing by Art Tatum is what makes this song stand out on this album. With little input from the band, it makes the piano performance the main focal point of the song. The next jazz piano legend to be featured on this album is Chick Corea performing his song "Senor Mouse" along side the Big Phat Band. The last of the six cover songs is by Grammy Award winning composer Dave Grusin and features Lee Ritenour once again on guitar. The song, "Punta Del Soul", has a very modern jazz feel to it highlighted by Dave Grusin's piano solo.

While the first half of the album showcases some stand-our piano performances, the second half of the album spotlights the horn section of this big band. The title song, "Act Your Age" features an alto sax performance by Eric Marienthal and an electric bass groove by Nathan East that almost gives the song a funk/jazz feel to it. Gordon Goodwin's soprano sax slows things down in "Chance Encounters". But, things pick back up with the trumpets of "Backrow Politics" which is the longest song on the album, clocking in at over eight minutes long. The energetic and airy "East Coast Envy" and the salsa swing of "El Macho Muchacho" both feature tenor sax solos by Brian Scanlon. The album ends with the song, "Gumbo Street" which has a New Orleans jazz feel to it provided by Gordon Goodwin's tenor sax and Andy Martin's trombone solos.

The album is modern big band jazz at its best. Along with the CD, the album also includes a DVD that features all 12 tracks in 5.1 surround sound. Also included on the DVD are solo transcriptions, live concert videos, track by track commentary and a "make you own mix" feature. After the Grammy Awards, Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band is headed out west to perform, but more dates are appearing on their 2009 North American tour. For more dates and information, please visit




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