Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band
Life In The Bubble
13 May 2014 (Concord)
By: Guest Writer, Adam Elder
As someone who was in relatively large jazz bands in both middle school and high school, almost all of Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band’s music is relatable and I myself have played some of the songs that they have covered. One of these songs, The Phat Pack, I remember attempting to play in high school and having great difficulty playing by myself, and as a group. Our director always said that we need to be “tighter” and “blend better”. This is something that this group does amazingly well. When I first listened to their recording of the song I was blown away by how well the group played as a whole and by how clean all of their cut offs were, and how well they expressed dynamics. In other words this band is so technically sound they are as good as a high school jazz band director’s wet dream. As someone who enjoys listening to big band groups in general, the combination of being technically impressive as well as enjoyable to listen to created a big draw for myself.
The band just released a new album called Life in the Bubble. This album while not being revolutionary or introducing any big changes to their sound overall was a great addition to their discography. On Green Dolphin Street, one song from this album, just received a Grammy for best instrumental arrangement, showing that this album has great arranging if nothing else . There are a range of song styles throughout the album including a few funk songs, covers of other songs, and many other “standard” big band pieces. As is normally with big band pieces, a great deal of time is spent on solo sections. For some, these sections can be challenging to get through because of the lack of structure. However, it is also one of the only times in professionally produced music where the melody is completely improvised. Some rappers will freestyle in albums, however it is not normally done on their most popular songs. I find these sections to be quite entertaining in this album, since each song only has around a one or two minute solo section compared to the seemingly endless solo sections other bands sometimes release.
Probably my favorite song off this album is the very last song, Party Rockers. This song is shorter, however it features Judith Hill and is very upbeat. It is a pretty poppy song, however there is still plenty of the jazz band elements to the song. This song really makes me question why more popular artists don’t incorporate instruments other than drums and guitar into their songs, as this song shows how well it could work.
Overall this is a great album to sit down and listen to if you are at all interested in jazz or were ever in a jazz band. If not this is still a great album to listen to while playing games, working, or exercising.
If you are not ready to go out and buy this album they do have a free song on their website.
Rating: Loved It