Seemingly innocent in their conception, clever album titles sometimes prove prophetic. There’s literally no way that when Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band titled their Grammy winning 2014 album Life in the Bubble – which features my all time favorite chart by this powerhouse ensemble, a sly, playful and swinging jam on the theme to “Get Smart” – they could have known a pandemic and a literaal lockdown bubble was a few years in the offing.
Yet there’s great news for fans of the pianist, saxophonist, leader and arranger and his fiery crew featuring 13 horns and that crackling rhythm section, which has been doing their old school big band meets contemporary pop, R&B/funk, rock and jazz, two time Grammy winning, six times nominated thing since they were Swingin’ For the Fences around the turn of the century.
The cold, dark days of quarantine give way, in Goodwin’s expansive musical imagination, to unbridled exuberance of The Reset, a semi-COVID era themed EP that in only five tracks muscles forth a sizzling blend of styles that all at once reflect on personal changes in Goodwin’s life, showcase the collective and individual solo artistry of many of band members (all elite jazz veterans) and pays loving homage (twice!) to the late great, uber-prolific composer/arranger Sammy Nestico, whose charts inspired Goodwin to pursue his own formidable path in similar realms.
If you choose to simply stream the collection, you’ll be treated to quite a whirlwind of colorful, fast paced ensemble and solo action. There’s the bustling, turbocharged jazz-rock fusion of the title track (whose all over the stylistic map adventurousness prompts Goodwin to admit “This music is very hard to categorize, which is just the kind of thing we like to do!); the spirited, light funky yet ever intensifying swing-romp that winks at the practice of social distancing (“Six Feet Away”), a dreamy, slow simmering stroll through Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire” by soulful vocalist Vangie Gunn; and the Nestico “suite,” the elegant, coolly strutting and warmly traditional “My Man Sam” and the bright, vibrant and cheerfully whimsical “Cell Talk,” the last chart Nestico finished before his death in early 2021 (and only non-Goodwin chart on a Big Phat Band project to date.
Fans who want to dig deeper into the experience and “get to know” the band and each individual member’s capabilities) a bit more intimately can, for only 10 bucks, download The Reset EP + Premium Content Digital Download, which features five takes on “The Reset” (each with an alternate featured horn solo by Eric Marienthal, Mike Rocha, Jeff Driskill, Francisco Torres, and one with Goodwin’s Hammond B-3 solo) and six versions of “Six Feet Away,” each with an alternate solo by Driskill, Goodwin, Rocha, Brian Scanlon, Jay Mason and Andy Martin. No matter how you immerse, The Phat Band’s latest jam is a great way to celebrate The Reset taking place in your personal post-pandemic world.
Listen to The Reset here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4n9oFWY8FYoi1T2e9eC59i