Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band Accompanies Austin in LA Phil Songbook Series Performance
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2009, AT 8 PM
Media Sponsor: Los Angeles Magazine
Grammy-winning music icon Patti Austin returns to Walt Disney Concert Hall to headline Patti Austin: Avant Gershwin, as part of the LA Phil’s 2008/09 Songbook series, Friday, February 13 at 8 p.m. The extraordinary songstress is accompanied by Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band – in its Walt Disney Concert Hall debut – as together they treat the audience to selections from Austin’s 2007 release Avant-Gershwin, celebrating the essential Gershwin-jazz connection with a fresh twist. The performance is part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s 2008/09 Songbook series.
A new high-water mark for Austin, Avant-Gershwin found her re-imagining the great George Gershwin’s complex and fascinating body of work. “You can judge a brilliant piece of music by how you can bend and stretch it,” said Austin. “I always believed George Gershwin to be avant-garde so I wanted to challenge myself and rework everything melodically and lyrically.” The ambitious “Overture/Gershwin Medley” leads off the album with a rousing fanfare, bridging together several Gershwin classics and immediately riveting the listener. For “Porgy & Bess,” Austin leaves behind some of the misogynistic messages and portrays a strong female role. She creates “Swanee” in the image of a jazz song. The singer follows Ella Fitzgerald’s lead on “Lady Be Good,” making it a rollicking, up-tempo ride. The resulting album is a work that goes beyond the “American Songbook,” into Austin’s bold and profound vision.
Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band is well-acquainted with Austin – she is featured on the group’s cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September,” the first single of its latest release, Act Your Age. Led by multi-Grammy- and Emmy-winner Gordon Goodwin, this 18-piece band has been inspiring musicians and artists young and old to follow its remarkable musicianship for the past eight years, earning Goodwin the tag “Big Band’s Pied Piper” for his impact on school curriculums nationwide. Known for his witty, intricate and hard-swinging compositions, the composer-arranger-bandleader recently picked up three Grammy nominations for his 12-song CD + bonus DVD Act Your Age.
The LA PHIL’s 2008/09 Songbook series features intimate performances by some of the foremost talents in contemporary American music. Each year since its inception, the LA PHIL Songbook series has brought audiences some of the most cherished evenings of song. The remaining Songbook series performance of the 2008/09 series is Chita Rivera: The Secret of Life.
Grammy-winner PATTI AUSTIN crosses all musical genres, has made 17 solo albums, and has performed her award-nominated hit songs on the Grammys and the Oscars. As a performer, songwriter and vocalist she has had a star-studded career that began at the age of 4, making her one of the most beloved artists the world over and a mainstay on the Billboard Jazz Albums charts. Her most recent release, Rendezvous Entertainment presents Avant-Gershwin, won Austin the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. As with 2002's Grammy-nominated homage to Ella Fitzgerald For Ella, Patti worked her magic again with the WDR Big Band on Avant-Gershwin. She created unique and personal interpretations with arranger Michael Abene (Lionel Hampton, Buddy Rich, B.B. King), aiming for an operatic but contemporary feeling. The album is also the first since her remarkable physical transformation. She doesn't hide the fact that she had gastric bypass surgery after years of being overweight and suffering from diabetes and other health issues. Realizing how her choices impacted her health, she made a commitment to educate others. She currently serves as the spokesperson for the American Heart Association's (AHA) "Power To End Stroke" campaign, helping educate her fans about the importance of their dietary choices and the risks of stroke, which threatened her life and ultimately felled her friend, music legend Luther Vandross, and her mother. Austin’s label recently partnered the release of the album Forever, For Always, For Luther Volume II with the “Power to End Stroke” campaign and Austin’s version of “So Amazing” is currently climbing up the Smooth Jazz Charts. Austin has also devoted a lot of time performing for AIDS-related organizations and has appeared in several major benefit concerts in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Austin, the daughter of jazz trombonist Gordon Austin and goddaughter of musical legends Quincy Jones and Dinah Washington, made her stage debut with Washington at the world-famous Apollo Theater in Harlem. During the ‘70s she was the undisputed "queen" of the New York session scene; her voice was heard behind everyone from Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, James Brown and Joe Cocker to Bette Midler, Roberta Flack, Luther Vandross and Diana Ross and on countless memorable commercial jingles. At the beginning of the ‘80s, Austin earned a wider audience through her participation on a series of albums with Jones including his best-selling Stuff Like That, his Grammy-winning classic The Dude, and his From Q With Love Vols. 1&2 via the standout track, "If This Time Is the Last Time." Her early solo career resulted in the chart-topping, Grammy-nominated hit "Baby Come To Me," a now classic duet with James Ingram; the Jam-and-Lewis-produced R&B smash "The Heat of Heat"; and the Oscar-nominated "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" Austin's 1988 album The Real Me, one of the most popular items in her catalog, featured a powerful collection of pop and jazz standards including "Cry Me A River,” "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and "Mood Indigo." Austin has also written and created her own one-woman show, and co-created the musical extravaganza Beboperella, a modern-day, music-driven show that brings the sound and spirit of bebop to a new generation. She also is the co-creator of Oh Freedom, a show exploring the African-American quest for freedom and equality in America. Austin continues to create milestones in an incredible career; a further testament to her status as a member of that rare breed: a true artist whose creativity knows no limits.
GORDON GOODWIN is the modern standard-bearer of big band arranging and composing, having won a Grammy award for his work on Pixar’s The Incredibles soundtrack, and three Emmy awards for music he composed for Warner Brothers animated films. The 11-time Grammy nominee fell in love with big band jazz when he discovered Count Basie in the seventh grade. Today Goodwin carries the big band tradition into the new millennium. One of the most exciting large jazz ensembles on the planet, GORDON GOODWIN’S BIG PHAT BAND creates a contemporary, highly original sound that features Goodwin’s witty, intricate and swinging compositions in a veritable grab bag of styles: swing, latin, blues, classical, rock…even an homage to Looney Tunes. The venerable arranger-composer Johnny Mandel, who wrote for the likes of Basie, Herman and Artie Shaw, after hearing Goodwin play, said to him, “You are where big band writing is today.” Saxophonist, keyboardist, and bandleader Gordon Goodwin appeared on albums by Louie Bellson and Gil Scott-Heron in the late '70s prior to the release of his debut solo album, Close to the Edge, on Nova in 1983. He continued to work primarily as a sideman, as well as increasingly as an arranger and orchestrator during the rest of the '80s, the '90s, and the early 2000s, with appearances on albums by the Tom Kubis Big Band, Grant Geissman, Perri, Miles Osland, Michael Crawford, Mark Mancina/Trevor Rabin, Dennis Bono, Simone, and Dan Savant/Mike Watts, also serving as conductor on such soundtracks as Armageddon, Enemy of the State and Gone in 60 Seconds. In 2000, he organized Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, an 18-piece big band, to record Swingin' for the Fences, released by Immergent Records. His primary income may have come from his arrangements, orchestrations, conducting, and occasional playing on soundtracks (including The Majestic, The One, and Spy Kids 2), but his heart was with his Big Phat Band, which followed up Swingin' for the Fences in 2003, with XXL, an eclectic effort bringing in rock and pop influences as well as humor and featuring as guest stars Take 6 and Johnny Mathis. The same year Goodwin won a Grammy for his instrumental arrangement of the track "Incredits" on the soundtrack of the 2004 film The Incredibles, he served as an orchestrator on the film National Treasure. The third album by the Big Phat Band, The Phat Pack, was released in June of 2006. Guests included Dianne Reeves and David Sanborn, and the album reached the Billboard jazz chart, selling more than 15,000 copies in its first two years of release, a substantial amount for a big-band jazz record. Later in the year, Goodwin combined his two major musical activities when the Big Phat Band performed the musical score for the animated holiday film Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas, also released on a soundtrack album. In 2007, Goodwin wrote the music for Casey at the Bat - The Musical and conducted the score for the film Snakes on a Plane. He also served as orchestrator and conductor on the 2008 film Get Smart. The fourth Big Phat Band album, Act Your Age, was released in September of 2008, featuring guest stars including Chick Corea, Dave Grusin, Patti Austin, Nathan East and Lee Ritenour (who produced the disc). Act Your Age received three Grammy nominations including Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band has attracted significant coverage from the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Time Magazine and numerous other media outlets across the continent. They’ve played profile venues and festivals including the Playboy Jazz Festival and Hollywood Bowl, and received a Grammy nomination for Best Large Jazz Ensemble for their work on the 2003 album XXL.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, under Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, presents the finest in orchestral and chamber music, recitals, new music, jazz, world music and holiday concerts at two of the most remarkable places anywhere to experience music – Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. In addition to a 30-week winter subscription season at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the LA Phil presents a 12-week summer festival at the legendary Hollywood Bowl, summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and home of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. In fulfilling its commitment to the community, the Association’s involvement with Los Angeles extends to educational programs, community concerts and children's programming, ever seeking to provide inspiration and delight to the broadest possible audience.
EDITORS PLEASE NOTE:
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2009, at 8 PM
WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL, 111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles
PATTI AUSTIN: AVANT-GERSHWIN
WITH GORDON GOODWIN’S BIG PHAT BAND
Tickets ($36 - $97) are on sale now at the Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office, online at LAPhil.com, or via credit card by phone at 323.850.2000. A limited number of $10 rush tickets for seniors and full time students may be available at the Walt Disney Concert Hall box office two hours prior to the performance. Valid identification is required; one ticket per person; cash only. Groups of 12 or more may be eligible for special discounts for selected concerts and seating areas. For information, please call 323.850.2000.
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Lisa White, 213.972.3408, firstname.lastname@example.org; Photos: 213.972.3034