Sound Observations with Gordon Goodwin

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 11:05
Posted in category Interviews, Upcoming Shows

By David Moye

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

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.”

Gordon Goodwin\'s Big Phat Band

Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band

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.”