Saturday, January 06, 2007

Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band

Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas
Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band

On Three King’s Day, we should still be able to enjoy Christmas music, and one of the more interesting new recordings of holiday music is Gordon Goodwin’s soundtrack for the Looney Tunes retelling of The Christmas Carol, Bah, Humduck!

Goodwin should be a hero to lad mag scene, for his film credits. Who else can boast of providing music for Attack of the Killer Tomatos, Snakes on a Plane, and Looney Tunes? His Big Phat Band—Coach Mangini would probably call them stout swingers—is one of the best working today. Here, Goodwin finds himself more than able to step into the Carl Stallings-Raymond Scott tradition of scoring Warner Brothers cartoons with swing, verve, and humor.

In truth, some of the selections in Bah do sound episodic, but the band is in fine form, and there strong moments to be heard, like the swinging “Deck the Halls” about 1:46 into “Main Title” and a brassy “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” quoted about 0:51 into “Kiss Me, It’s Christmas.” “Profits on the Rise” is also opens with a notable hard swing. There are indeed swinging passages and nice grooves throughout the soundtrack selections, making it the ultimate thin edge of the wedge, when trying to introduce kids to jazz.

There are also three added tunes “inspired by the motion picture” which really let Goodwin and band cut loose. Goodwin’s original “This is Christmas” is a lovely melody and features fine trumpet work from Doug Savant. Since it is not readily recognizable as a Christmas tune, it could end up as year round staple in your ipod. There are also two longer hip takes on Christmas Carols. “Yo Tannenbaum” has nice solos for the leader on tenor and Andy Martin on trombone, before taking it as on a flag-waving high note. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” starts out sounding traditional, but the band comes in strong around 1:15 and off they go only backing off to let Goodwin take some in the piano chair, then ending it in swinging style.

Bah, Humbug! is an excellent family-friendly disk from a band to look and listen for. Goodwin is again nominated for a Grammy this year, but for many scoring for Daffy Duck and Porky Pig eclipses any industry honors.

(Sorry I couldn’t post this at a more opportune time—as in before Christmas. My copy was buried somewhere in the office mailroom. Some retailers discount holiday CDs after Christmas, so maybe it’s a good time to pick it up.)