Act Your Age is the fourth album recorded by Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band. The album includes a DVD containing recording studio footage and bonus features, such as a 5.1 surround sound mix of the album. It received a 2008 GRAMMY nomination in the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album category.
The album features many guest artists including Chick Corea on his own composition "Señor Mouse". Another track incorporates Zenph Studios' re-performance of Art Tatum's 1949 recording of "Yesterdays", with a big band arrangement by Goodwin. This track received a 2008 GRAMMY nomination for Best Instrumental Arrangement.
For the fourth recorded edition of his Big Phat Band, Grammy-winning Gordon Goodwin in “Act Your Age” continues to display dynamic big band writing executed with complete aplomb. A bevy of guest soloists is on display in tracks by the accomplished pianists Chick Corea and Dave Grusin, vocalist Patti Austin, and guitarist Lee Ritenour, who is also the producer of the CD. In addition, Goodwin illustrates his genuine appreciation of the legacy of the enduring jazz masters in the intriguing, cutting edge re-recording by Art Tatum of “Yesterday,” which is surrounded by his modern chart of the Jerome Kern classic tune. Goodwin’s bow to the recent past is his version of Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man,” dressed in brand new clothes and arranged in a shuffle rhythm. Patti Austin digs deeply into Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September,” along with Lee Ritenour’s vigorous guitar solo. Chick Corea recreates his “Señor Mouse” with the same success as his original version, but this time he is heard in a rare big band context, riffing with The Big Phat Band. The celebrated screen composer, Dave Grusin, and his longtime musical associate Ritenour, work perfectly in tandem providing added flavor to Grusin’s composition, “Punta Del Soul.” The broad sweep of Goodwin’s impressive composing and arranging credentials are much in evidence through his originals including standouts “Hit The Ground Running,” “Act Your Age,” and “Chance Encounters.” Running the musical gamut from soul grooves to samba, to contemporary New Orleans, musically he is equally at home. But the high caliber of Goodwin’s writing demands a high caliber ensemble to play it. That is exactly what the Big Phat Band offers, in addition to featuring soloists that both understand and are in turn inspired by his writing: Alto saxophonist Eric Marienthal, tenor saxophonist Brian Scanlon, the Band’s vaunted trumpet section of Wayne Bergeron, Dan Fornero, Dan Savant, and Bob Summers, trombonist Andy Martin, and drummer Bernie Dresel. The Bonus DVD is loaded with great stuff that Gordon’s fans expect from him including videos, interviews, commentary, band bios, games, “make your own mix,” and the entire in stunning DVD quality 5.1 surround sound.
Bonus DVD includes:
5.1 SURROUND-SOUND VERSIONS OF ALL
12 TRACKS FROM THE CD/PHOTO GALLERY
LIVE CONCERT FOOTAGE from New Hampshire 5/31/08
TRACK BY TRACK COMMENTARY/PHOTO GALLERY
A CONVERSATION WITH LEE RITENOUR, GORDON GOODWIN & DAN SAVANT/PHOTO GALLERY
BIG PHAT JAM WINNERS from “The Phat Pack” online music contest
MAKE YOUR OWN MIX of “Hit The Ground Running” and “Gumbo Street”
ON-SCREEN LINER NOTES
INDIVIDUAL BAND MEMBER BIOS
Review by Giovanni C. Washington-Wright
Well, "Swingin' For The Fences" used to be my favorite BPB record. Not any more. Gordon and the band have far exceeded my expectations with their newest effort, "Act Your Age". Just when I thought I'd heard everything Gordon could do with the band, he surprised me... again. He is absolutely unapologetic about how he writes and I love him for it. Gordon is living proof that even genius evolves and a beacon for anyone that has ever tried to write a chart (and different styles). Unless you have tried, I don't think you have anything to say. Now, the music...
"Hit The Ground Running" - This is a great opener. Right away, the band gets things poppin' with this Tower Of Power-inspired funk, which has their signature sound all over it. This is one of two Eric Marienthal features on the record, and he sounds great.
"Watermelon Man" - I love Herbie Hancock. He was originally slated to be a guest on this tune, but had to back out due to other obligations. It's OK, though. Gordon plays a burnin' piano solo is his place. This tune is one of my favorites on the record. It's a Thad Jones-style shuffle and swings HARD all of the way to Wayne Bergeron's double-D's at the end. Note: the brass section's tutti lip trills on this are AWESOME!
"September" - Another favorite. I'm a HUGE Earth, Wind, & Fire fan. Gordon really nailed this chart. He manages to stay true to the original version of it while putting his own stamp on it. I went into this tune very skeptical and came out loving it. Also, outstanding contributions by Patti Austin and Lee Ritenour.
"Yesterdays" - You should buy the album for this tune alone. Wow. Art Tatum is one on my heroes, and Gordon is crazy about him, too. The "ghost" of AT sitting in with the BPB is too much to take. This track is a cut above - musically and technologically. It should at least get a nod for "Best Instrumental Arrangement" from the Grammys.
"Senor Mouse" - This tune is another show-stopper. I love Chick Corea (another hero), therefore I love "Senor Mouse". It's always great to hear Chick's music in a big band setting. Gordon's chart, Chick's performance, and the BPB's performance are all brilliant.
"Punta Del Soul" - A nice, mid-tempo contemporary tune. Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin sound great here. Gordon's respect and admiration for both of them shines through on this chart. He is very true to Grusin's original tune.
"Act Your Age" - The title cut is awesome. This is the other Eric Marienthal feature... and he burns. Also, kudos to Nathan East - who plays his butt off on bass. He totally give this tune the necessary groove, fire, and sass it needs.
"Chance Encounters" - One of two of my most favorite tunes on the album. Gordon shows a totally different side of himself here. This tune is all about muted brass, unison flutes, bass clarinet, and vibes. It's a totally retro tune in the Oliver Nelson bag. Sheer genius. A great soprano solo by Gordon, as well.
"Backrow Politics" - An all-out, boogaloo trumpet section feature. Everyone sounds amazing on this. Solo order: Summers, Savant, Fornero, Bergeron. These guys are going for it - lobbing grenades at each other. Savant quotes "Rhapsody In Blue" at the end of his solo. Wayne even quotes part of his solo from "Horn Of Puente". Priceless.
"East Coast Envy" - My other very favorite tune. A dark, hipster, and sly acoustic funk / swing. I've never heard Gordon do this before. Excellent solos from Brian Scanlon and Andy Martin. Second chord of the solo changes: E7#9/Eb... NICE!
"El Macho Muchacho" - This is a BPB signature samba. Great tune. Outstanding solos from Andrew Synowiec and Brian Scanlon.
"Gumbo Street" - A superb contemporary New Orleans second-line chart. I don't think I've ever heard anything like it. Great tenor solo by Gordon... and Andy Martin... WHEW! He really knocks his solo out of the park!
"Floating Home" (bonus track) - This is a reggae jam tune. The band is just unwinding and having fun on this track, but still sound great. Great plunger trumpet solo by Wayne Bergeron.
Let me mention two more unsung heroes: Bernie Dresel and Tommy Vicari. Bernie lays down FIERCE grooves on this record - all different styles... and thanks to Tommy Vicari you can hear the paint drying in the studio. This album is EXCELLENT and you really should buy it right away. It's kind of bittersweet for me, though. My champion, "Swingin' For Fences", has been dethroned. Also, I'm still waiting on NARAS to wake up and give Gordon a nod for "Best Large Jazz Ensemble". He's been turning out superior records (and not very quietly) for years now. This one ought to do it.
- Giovanni C. Washington-Wright