Goodwin, 55, a renowned jazz artist with an extensive conducting and recording history, is a three-time Emmy winner. He won a Grammy in 2006 for Best Instrumental Arrangement for his work on the feature film The Incredibles." Over his career, Goodwin has been nominated for 13 Grammy, so it's not like his work has gone unknown in the industry.
It is an honor, and if sounds cliché, the nomination is enough. Anything after that is kind of gravy," said Goodwin, a Thousand Oaks resident for 10 years.
The 54th annual Grammy Awards show will air live on CBS Feb. 12. Goodwin was nominated for Best Instrumental Arrangement for Rhapsody in Blue," a track from That's How We Roll," the album Goodwin and his 18-member Big Phat Band released last April. (George Gershwin originally wrote Rhapsody in Blue" in 1924.) Goodwin's other nomination is for Best Instrumental Composition for an original work, a fast-paced piece called Hunting Wabbits 3 (Get Off My Lawn)."
The Big Phat Band is a jazz ensemble that Goodwin formed in 2000. Goodwin composes the music and arranges the group's performance pieces, as well as plays piano and tenor saxophone. The Big Phat Band also has welcomed many big-name guest musicians, including Eddie Daniels, Johnny Mathis, Arturo Sandoval, David Sanborn, Dave Koz and the a cappella group Take 6. The band infuses traditional jazz with contemporary sounds and turns out high-energy music with fast rhythms and tempos. The band includes many acclaimed studio musicians from Los Angeles and has released seven albums under the Silverline and Telarc Records labels.
Goodwin's day job" is orchestrating, conducting and arranging music for big studio films. He has worked on about 50 films, including The Majestic," The Sorcerer's Apprentice," National Treasure: Book of Secrets," Remember the Titans," Glory Road," and Armageddon."
The Big Phat Band allows Goodwin to write and record music he loves, play with great musicians, tour and teach schoolchildren about jazz.
The Big Phat Band has enabled me to go on other projects that aren't ideal because I have this band as an oasis. I can write it exactly as I want to write it," said Goodwin, whose band has performed everywhere from the Hollywood Bowl to music festivals to high school gyms.
The Big Phat Band's latest album, That's How We Roll," is a 10-song set of all original material, except the rendition of Rhapsody in Blue." The other nine tracks were written by Goodwin; his wife of 25 years, Lisa, a singer, cowrote the piece, Never Enough." The couple has three children.
For me, the sole motivation is to write or perform music that sounds good to me. With the Big Phat Band, nobody really tells me how it should sound. I just go with what my gut tells me," said Gordon Goodwin. He adds that he's not a musical purist," and enjoys a wide range of jazz styles including classical, swing, Latin and blues.
Music has been a huge part of Goodwin's life since he was about 5, when his parents made him take piano lessons while growing up in the suburban community of La Verne.
I hated it. They forced me to do it. But I was really lucky because the teacher I had saw I didn't like much practicing scales, but if I did, she said, 'I'll let you write a song.'" Goodwin said this planted the seed in his mind that he could actually write his own music. I wasn't Mozart or a prodigy but little by little, I got more comfortable doing it," he said.
Goodwin began playing clarinet in the fourth grade and saxophone in seventh grade. By then, he said, he knew he wanted to be a musician.
When I first heard jazz in seventh grade, when I first heard Count Basie's band, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It sounded really familiar to me. There was something that had a vitality to it," he said.
In high school, Goodwin won awards for his jazz compositions. He attended CSU Northridge, joined the jazz band and earned a bachelor's degree in saxophone performance. He learned conducting, orchestration and other skills.
Goodwin started out playing at weddings and bar mitzvahs and also worked at Disneyland on and off for several years. He wrote the music for a Mouseketeer reunion show and wrote music for parades and other Disney shows. His career slowly and steadily moved forward, and Goodwin worked at Warner Bros. for about five years writing music for an animated series. In the mid 1980s, he began traveling and conducting for Johnny Mathis and becoming more commercially known. He's also conducted major symphony orchestras in several American and foreign cities including London, Toronto, Dallas and Atlanta.
Today, among the things Goodwin enjoys is encouraging music students to play and like jazz. Schools are a huge audience for the Big Phat Band, which travels to schools nationwide to perform or hold a workshop or music clinic with a school band. Goodwin advises young musicians to market themselves and their talentsusing social media, a website, anythingand to be proactive about finding work as a musician if that's what they want to do, as he does.
Said Goodwin, Music is keeping me young and it's been my whole life."