Written by Becca Pulliam from WBGO-FM
Closing his set at 92Y Tribeca, drummer Henry Cole — leader of the 11-player Afrobeat Collective from New York and Puerto Rico — told the audience, “Big groups are going to come again!” This show, which features Cole’s young collective and a top big band playing the Monterey Jazz Festival, is a vote for that proposition.
Gordon Goodwin from Los Angeles won the Best Instrumental Arrangement Grammy in 2012 for “Rhapsody in Blue” (George Gershwin) for his Big Phat Band. As Goodwin says, arranging is great, but the notes are just scribbles on the page until someone plays them. The versatile and successful California-based arranger Clare Fischer (1928-2012) was a major influence on Goodwin, who also remembers playing in his high-school band at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
The Big Phat Band makes its Monterey Jazz Festival debut with “Rhapsody in Blue” and “Hunting Wabbits,” inspired by Carl Stalling’s 1940s scores for Warner Brothers cartoons — think Looney Tunes and Bugs Bunny. The music tumbles all over itself. We close their set with what Goodwin calls the greatest big-band flute section in the world, playing “Backrow Politics.”
Goodwin is nominated for two more Grammy Awards — one in composing, one in arranging. Winners will be named early next year.
At the end of this week’s show, Henry Cole’s Afrobeat Collective puts Fela Kuti through a rhythm section with chekere and barril from the Caribbean, and the horn players include some of Brooklyn’s best new and not-that-old talent. Percussionist/vocalist Obanilu Allende flew in for the show.
Henry Cole’s set produced for broadcast by Josh Jackson, WBGO. Recordings by Ron Davis and David Tallacksen; Surround Sound mixes by Duke Markos. Thanks to Tim Jackson, the Monterey Jazz Festival and 92Y Tribeca.