Big Phat Band Gordon Goodwin stays true to himself

By John Benson

Gordon Goodwin’s side project The Big Phat Band allows the successful movie-score composer and arranger to do, well, whatever he wants. That is everything except rapping, which is fine with this Grammy and Emmy Award-winning musician.

“Most of the time, the music I write for income, my job, is to give the producer what he wants,” said Goodwin, calling from Southern California. “To write music that I think will sound good to him as opposed to what might necessarily sound good to me. And in the Big Phat Band, for better or worse, this is an environment that no one tells us how to play or what it should sound like. Really, that’s the honest way to play music. That’s your only real responsibility as an artist — be honest about who you are.”

A keyboardist and woodwind player, Goodwin’s career has included composing, arranging and playing with legends such as Ray Charles, Johnny Mathis, John Williams, Natalie Cole, David Foster, Sarah Vaughan, Mel Torme and Quincy Jones.

In addition, his cinematic scoring and orchestration resume includes some of the most memorable Hollywood films such as “The Incredibles,” “Remember The Titans,” “Armageddon” and even the classic cult film “Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes.”

However, when it comes to letting his hair down and having some fun, Goodwin turned to his Big Phat Band more than a dozen years ago. Today, the 20-piece act features some of Los Angeles’ finest players. The group’s most-recent release is 2011’s “That’s How We Roll.”

“A lot of times, people think you need a concept for a record, which is something that certainly works,” Goodwin said. “But, really, it’s as simple as the musicians and myself as a writer; we don’t have a lot of stylistic barriers. A little bit of our mission is to get people to not have categories that people put certain genres in. So we hopefully change some people’s ideas, especially when they hear the word big band. It’s not just jazz, and it’s not your grandfather’s big band, either.

“We’re playing music that we do believe in,” Gordon said.

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