Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band is an 18-piece big band that he assembled in the year 2000. Their first recording was “Swingin’ For The Fences”, and in April of 2011 they released their latest CD, “That’s How We Roll”. Neither of which is the album I want to discuss this week. 😉
I am going to talk about their 2008 release, “Act Your Age”, which was released by Immergent.
“Act Your Age” is packed with great music and a few special guest stars, including:
Art Tatum (piano on “Yesterdays”)
Chick Corea (piano on “Senor Mouse”)
Nathan East (bass on “Act Your Age”)
Eric Marienthal (alto sax on “Hit The Ground Running” and “Act Your Age”)
Dave Grusin (piano on “Punta Del Soul”)
Lee Ritenour (guitar on “September” and “Punta Del Soul”)
Patti Austin (vocal on “September”)
One very cool thing about “Act Your Age” is the accompanying DVD, which contains all 12 titles mastered in 5.1 stereo surround sound, plus on-screen liner notes for each track. Other goodies include live concert footage, a photo gallery, band member bios, and more. Some might call this second disk a gimmick. Gimmick or not, if it adds to your enjoyment of the album, then I’m all for it. The 5.1 stereo is more than worth it to me.
“Act Your Age” opens with “Hit The Ground Running”, one of no less than seven Goodwin originals on this disk. We’re almost two minutes into the song when Eric Marienthal and his sax steps forward and takes control.
A spirited version of Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” follows, with Goodwin tinkling the ivories while Rick Shaw on electric bass sets the pace. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a big band version of this song before this one. It not only works, it does double-duty, serving also as a bridge between the more lively opening track, “Hit The Ground Running”, and track three, an upbeat vocal version of “September” featuring Patti Austin and Lee Ritenour.
Here is your chance to hear Gordon and the boys doing “Watermelon Man”:
Things then slow down for the beginning of “Yesterdays”, which showcases “Art Tatum” on piano. Yes, I know, Tatum died in 1956. Thanks to modern computer magic, a Tatum performance of this song that was originally recorded in 1949 was digitized and then run through a Yamaha Disklavier.
I have no way to compare this to an original Tatum performance. Unfortunately, the only Art Tatum recording in my music library at present is itself a re-creation. And of the 16 versions of this song that I do have, including those on compilation disks, only this one is performed by Tatum, more or less.
I suspect a lot of people hated this when “Act Your Age” was first released. For that matter, they may still be, people being what they are. All I can say is, here we are three years later and the earth hasn’t fallen out of its orbit yet, nor has the moon, so get over it. I’m sure Tatum’s heirs didn’t refuse the royalties.
“Yesterdays” is followed by “Senor Mouse”. This is an interesting song that manages to actually have a good beat while not seeming to. If you can imagine that. Chic Corea’s piano is of course front and center throughout, and rightfully so. This is a great version of a great song.
Other great tracks to listen for are “Punta Del Soul”, “Act Your Age”, and “Backrow Politics”. In fact, if I had the time, I could write about every track on this disk. As far as I’m concerned, they’re all winners.
Altogether they combine to make “Act Your Age” a wonderful addition to your personal playlist for a Saturday or any other night!
You can learn more about Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band by visiting their web site.
Thank you for reading this.
Wood Village, Oregon
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