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Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band

Big Band Jazz


Gordon Goodwin is a Grammy award-winning American studio pianist, saxophonist, composer, arranger and conductor best known for his work on films like “The Incredibles.”

He has also has worked on many other film and TV shows such as the new Sci-Fi flick “I Am Number Four.”

His “Big Phat Band” is an 18-piece Jazz ensemble that uses a similar instrumentation to the traditional big bands of the 1930s and 40s, but with more contemporary sound, highlighted by driving rhythms, fast tempos and extreme virtuosity.

The end result is an eclectic, intelligent and high-energy brand of music that marries the best elements of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, John Barry and other big-band and orchestral jazz giants of the past 70 years as well as Earth Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, and Tower of Power.

The band features some of California’s top studio musicians including trumpet star Wayne Bergeron, sax guru Eric Marienthal and trombonist supreme Andy Martin.

Goodwin got his start playing with drum legend Louis Bellson and has also worked with Take 6, Gerald Albright, Chick Corea, James Moody, Lee Ritenour, Mel Torme, Johnny Mathis, Dave Koz, Marcus Miller, Brian McKnight and Gil Scott-Heron.

Goodwin first assembled his Big Phat Band in 2000, an ironic starting point for an 18-piece big band, given that the fleeting neo-swing craze of the late 1990s was just winding down.

The Big Phat Band’’s journey takes a new turn with the April 12, 2011, release of “That’s How We Roll,” the group’s sixth recording overall.

Sound Observations with Gordon Goodwin

By David Moye

Orson Welles once described a film set as “the greatest train set a 10-year-old boy ever had.”

Grammy-winning musician Gordon Goodwin feels the same about his Big Phat Band, now in its tenth year.

Although Goodwin is a very successful studio pianist, saxophonist, composer, arranger and conductor known for his work on films like “The Incredibles” and “I Am Number Four,” his one true musical love is that band and big bands in general.

“A big band has such a wide range of colors,” Goodwin said prior to his April 16 gig at Anthology. “I fell in love with the sound when I was in 8th grade.”

There are 18 members in Goodwin’s Big Phat Band and all are top-flight musicians including trumpet star Wayne Bergeron, sax guru Eric Marienthal and trombonist supreme Andy Martin.

“These are 18 busy guys,” Goodwin said. “They are some of the best in a town full of great musicians. Like me, they all fell in love with the big band sound and they like being part of the lineage.

“It’s still a hobby from a revenue standpoint, but it pays off in other ways,” he said. “I got a film because the director was a fan of the band. That was hilarious because rock stars often get film gigs because the director likes their music.”

Being in control of the sound is important to Goodwin, who relishes the chance to be in charge after long days trying to cater to the whims of Hollywood hot shots.

“One director told me he didn’t want minor chords,” Goodwin snorted. “That’s like telling a writer not to use the letter T.”

With the Big Phat Band, Goodwin is able to play everything from swing, latin and jazz to rock and funk.

“All these guys grew up with both Count Basie and Earth, Wind and Fire,” he said. “The fun of arranging is this: There’s a melody and a groove for casual listeners, but my arranging skills allow us to change the harmonic mood to give it some depth.”

Considering the hallowed musical pedigrees in Goodwin’s band, it’s amazing that the lineup has remained relatively steady over the past 10 years, especially considering that his musicians usually have higher-paying offers than his.

“We have a culture,” Goodwin said. “To be in this band, you have to take pride in being an ensemble. It’s not about enduring all the other music until it’s your chance to blow. Not every musician has that priority and you’ll often find them in smaller bands.”


SAT 4/16, 7:30pm click to purchase tickets

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SAT 4/16, 9:30pm click to purchase tickets

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