A throwback swing and a contemporary vision have Gordon Goodwin and the Big Phat Band at the top of their game! A Big Phat triumph!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Three time Grammy winner Gordon Goodwin and his Big Phat Band are back with yet another stellar release in Life In The Bubble. While working slightly left of center has been the calling card of a band that has also garnered sixteen Grammy nominations, Life In The Bubble manages to fuse a contemporary diversity with a hard hitting old school swing for what may arguably be their finest effort thus far. There is an inspiring conceptual notion to this release which is utterly simple yet amazingly profound. The age of the digital download has brought forth a sense of cultural isolationism. Exposure to a wide ranging medium including improvisational music is now directly in the hands of the consumer and they better darn well know what they want. Life In The Bubble seeks to marry the contemporary with the roots of big band music to explore the harmonic possibilities that are ahead as they take the lyrical road less traveled.
Bad tracks? Are you serious? They roll a doughnut in a good way so let me tell you about the very best cuts from Life In The Bubble. "The Passage" is a wonderful ballad featuring Eric Marienthal whose emotional solo has a contemporary edge yet fits hand in glove within the luxurious tapestry of melodic splendor. "On Green Dolphin Street" is an incredibly innovative riff on a rarely heard Oscar Peterson solo. The arrangement is spectacular and the tune features Goodwin on piano and Bob Summers on trumpet. A more than fitting tribute to the great Oscar Peterson. Judith Hill is quickly shooting up the musical food chain as a vocalist due largely in part to her ability to sing anything...in any style...and in this case with a screaming big band! This is a nuclear groove on the Hill original and that slightly out of the box presentation should draw new friends and family to the fold while the presentation is nothing short of fierce.
My final thoughts? The smart money goes on a seventh Grammy nomination. Nothing to grind on here folks, as close to perfection as one can get!
Tracks: Life In The Bubble; Why Can't We Have Nice Things; Synolicks; Years of Therapy; The Passage; Garaje Gato; Does This Chart Make Me Look Phat? Get Smart; On Green Dolphin Street; Party Rockers.
Personnel: Gordon Goodwin: Piano, Tenor Sax.
Saxophones: Eric Marienthal : Soprano, Alto Sax; Sal Lozano: Alto Sax, Flute, Piccolo; Brian Scanlon: Tenor Sax, Clarinet; Jeff Driscoll: Tenor Sax (1,2,5,7,8,9); Kevin Garren: Tenor Sax (3,4,6) Alto Sax (2); Jay MasonL Baritone Sax, Bass Clarinet.
Trumpets: Wayne Bergeron, Dan Fornero, Willie Murillo, Dan Savant, Bob Summers (9).
Trombones: Andy Martin, Charlie Morillas, Francisco Torres, Craig Gosnell.
Drums: Bernie Dresel; Acoustic and Electric Bass: Rick Shaw; Guitar: Andy Synowiec; Percussion: Joey DeLeon.