Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band

The Phat Pack

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Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band proves that large jazz ensembles are still in demand with this mostly rewarding effort. Goodwin, who wrote most of the music and doubles on piano and tenor sax, makes the most of his group's abilities. Highlights include the modern swing chart "Count Bubba's Revenge," the playful "Hunting Wabbits (A Bad Hare Day)" featuring Sal Lanzo on piccolo, and "Ever Braver, Ever Stronger (An American Elegy)," which is a richly textured work suggesting the influence of 20th century composer Aaron Copland. There are also various guests: vocalist Dianne Reeves adds a nice touch to the swinging chart of "Too Close for Comfort," while virtuoso clarinetist Eddie Daniels is featured in Goodwin's demanding "Under the Wire." The vocal group Take 6 add their tight harmonies to a breezy arrangement of "It Was a Very Good Year." The only dud is the ridiculously out-of-place 1970s R&B hit "Play That Funky Music" (by the one-hit-wonder band Wild Cherry), a piece of tripe featuring shrill smooth jazz alto saxophonist David Sanborn, who is also an ill fit with this normally swinging big band. Goodwin does his best to make something of this monotonous piece, but he is done in by its lack of substance; it's hard to believe that he chose either the song or Sanborn for this otherwise outstanding CD.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Spotify
2 Spotify
3 Spotify
4 Spotify
5 Spotify
6 Spotify
7 Spotify
8 Spotify
10 Spotify
11 Spotify
feat: Take 6
13 Spotify
blue highlight denotes track pick