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Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band: Swingin’ for the Fences

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Hello, my name is Sean, and I am a DVD slut. No matter how lousy a certain movie might be-heck, even when I’ve already seen the piece of crap in the theater-if the DVD version includes “bonus material” (deleted scenes, director’s commentary, making-of featurettes), then there’s a good chance I’ll be pulling out the wallet. Sure, I have classics like Taxi Driver, Don’t Look Back, and Jaws, but I’m also the proud owner of Showgirls, Mission: Impossible 2, and 1941. I know: It’s pathetic. But now my mania is reaching even more fevered heights: Because of Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, I’m now hooked on DVD music, too.

Bandleader Goodwin’s Swingin’ for the Fences is 10 hellzapoppin’ (and I don’t use that word lightly) swing tracks-nine of which were written by the man himself-recorded in six-channel DTS digital surround sound. (That sound you hear is my drool hitting the linoleum.) Which means, of course, that from the very first notes of album-opener “Sing Sang Sung”-and all the way to “A Few Good Men”‘s raucous finale-the music isn’t just coming from my stereo, but from my kitchen, my shower and my walk-in closet, as well. The clarity of the mix is jaw-dropping, to say the least.

More than 40 artists make up the Big Phat Band-including such big phat talents as Arturo Sandoval and Eddie Daniels-and when this disc is pumping on all cylinders, it sounds like each and every musician has been crammed into my dinky apartment for a brassy all-night bash. Swingin’ for the Fences commences with a traditional swing sound, but eventually incorporates pop, classical, rock, and tropical touches as well. As for the DVD extras, Goodwin, who plays woodwinds, horns and piano as well as leads the band, offers puckish liner notes, photographs from the recording sessions and an informal behind-the-scenes video. But who needs visuals when the music, safe but bombastic, literally dances in front of your eyes. Besides, if I want really good extras, I can always pop in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure .