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Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band: The Phat Pack

Here’s swinging proof that nothing succeeds like success. It’s been over three years since the Phat Band’s last CD. After Goodwin earned five Grammy nominations for the previous two, everyone in jazz-enriched Hollywood was eager to sign on for the next release. Thus the list of soloists represents an embarrassment of talents: clarinetist Eddie Daniels; trumpeters Wayne Bergeron, Bob Summers; trombonist Andy Martin; saxophonists David Sanborn, Eric Marienthal; plus a half-dozen more in the form of vocalists Take 6.

The whole phat project is one big highlight, but some stand out. “Cut ‘n’ Run” comes to life after a fade-in-and it’s very effective, too, as it underscores the first explosion. “Count Bubba’s Revenge” suddenly has the bones in oom-pah oom-pah mode, which sets you up for the hard swing that follows. How about “Hunting Wabbits 2-A Bad Hare Day?” Great title. The first and last parts sound like cues Goodwin wrote for his animated “wabbit.” Between those bookends, Marienthal swings aggressively on soprano. Ditto for Daniels’ technique on “Under the Wire.” Take 6 sing tricky bop lines not in unison but in close harmony on “Very Good Year.”

Originally Published