Bill GoodwinView in iTunes
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A drummer that has been in demand for a variety of musically challenging assignments, Bill Goodwin has put together a list of credits that would be worthy of any member of the drummer's hall of fame. One of his specialities is laying down a steady yet subtle beat in the piano trio groups of leaders who have a sophisticated edge to their tunes, including Mose Allison, as well as the even more introspective and experimental Tom Waits. Of course, the drummer has a shopping list of jazz credits, but jumping out among such obvious jewels are surprises such as his session playing on the psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane's Crown of Creation album, forming a not so obvious link between the San Francisco sound of the late '60s and the cool jazz of Los Angeles to the south. This was where Goodwin was born, taking up piano as his first instrument at the ripe age of five. At 12, he added tenor saxophone, while the drums were an even later addition, and self-taught to boot. This expression is unfortunate, considering the inspiration turned out to be the film The Man with the Golden Arm, a Hollywood potboiler designed to scare kids away from using heroin. Hearing drummer Shelly Manne on the soundtrack was all Goodwin needed before he finally made up his mind which musical instrument he wanted to devote his life to. His premiere professional gig was apparently in the early '60s with Charles Lloyd, which is not a bad start, although a style of jazz that would make future Goodwin boss Phil Woods want to wretch. Off and on from 1961 through the middle of that decade, he was a sideman of Mike Melvoin, Bud Shank, Frank Rosolino, Art Pepper, Paul Horn, and Gabor Szabo. He was also part of the mob on-stage at L.A. jazz hang the Lighthouse, known under the collective name of Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All Stars, i.e., definitely part of the Los Angeles jazz in-crowd. In the latter part of the '60s, he backed up pianist George Shearing, a stickler for hyper tempos. A stint with Allison from 1968 through 1975 was a chance to calm things down, since that artist favors medium tempos and ballads, his drummers sticking to brushes for most of the set so that the slyly drawled lyrics won't be rendered inaudible. His playing style began to stretch in more modernistic direction in the early '70s through affiliations with vibraphonist Gary Burton, which brought him to the East Coast. Japanese pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi and tenor saxophonist Stan Getz were other playing partners, the latter artist particularly pushy with a cutting-edge direction in this period. There was also still plenty of mainstream jazz work from the drummer, including driving Chuck Israels' National Jazz Ensemble, as well as laying down endless grooves for the tenor saxophone contests of Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, the results usually a draw. Having built up his muscles, he joined the band of Phil Woods in 1974, contributing powerhouse drumming to this already strong bop saxophonist's sound. He continued to augment the straightahead bop drumming with his talents for backing witty vocalists, performing with the superb Bob Dorough as well as the Manhattan Transfer, a '70s band that revived many of the tricky vocal arrangements of '30s and '40s pop music. In 1975, the drummer began touring with Waits, introducing his playing to another audience entirely. In the late '70s and early '80s, he began releasing albums under his own name for the Omni label. He also began establishing himself around this time as a producer. He has produced all of Phil Woods' recordings he has played on since the early '80s, as well as projects for Dorough, Keith Jarrett, Tom Harrell, and others. ~ Eugene Chadbourne