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Goodwin’s California-based 18-piece orchestra twists and turns from big band shout to barroom blues and from svelte swing to muscular funk.

The title track opens with third stream references, “The Passage” is Ellingtonian and “Garaje Gato” explores Latin dance.

Goodwin leads from the piano, showcasing his band’s silky skills with a neat balance of orchestral fireworks, velvet-smooth riffs and attention-grabbing solos. And, despite the myriad of references, the album hangs together brilliantly.

A well-crafted, unpretentious pleasure, with vocalist Judith Hill’s finger-snapping “Party Rockers” a highlight.

Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band

Life in the Bubble

(Telarc)

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