'It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing'
A Conversation with Orchestra Leader Charles Goodwin
By Angela Wampler | January 28, 2008Charles Goodwin has been recognized as one of East Tennessee's "Statesmen of Jazz," responsible for the exposure of jazz in our region and the proliferation of this musical genre throughout this area in performances and collaborations with nationally known jazz artists.
However, when asked if he considers himself a jazz musician, Goodwin humbly replies, "I am a piano player who grew up during the Big Band Era. I will always love that music."
In 2006, Goodwin received two honors — a Distinguished Artist Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award — from the Arts Council of Greater Kingsport. Goodwin also has been recognized for his musical arrangements for orchestras; one album, "Charlie Spivak Now 1981," was nominated for a Grammy award, but lost to an album by Count Basie.
According to Goodwin, the Grammy-nominated recording was part of a two-album set. He explains, "The first album was (Spivak's) old band — which was great — with recordings from the 1940s, and the second album was the new band, of which I was a part. I did three arrangements on the album: "Tennessee Waltz," a vocal arrangement for (Spivak's) wife Dubby; "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and "I Cried For You," another vocal for Dubby. We recorded the album in Atlanta, but before it could be released, (Spivak) died of bone cancer, and the album became tied up in all kinds of legal stuff. It is now available to collectors through an audiophile in Atlanta."
Goodwin says, "I consider myself very, very fortunate. Not only do I have 10 other musicians in my band who are fine players, but I also have 10 lifelong friends. One of my sax players, Jack Vest, and I played our first gig together in 1947; he is still with me."
There are now three generations of Goodwins in the Big Band: Charles on keyboard, son Fred on bass, and grandson Nathan on trumpet. Nathan replaced Ron Wilcox, who died last year, and Goodwin's band played for his funeral. "Nathan just graduated law school in Alabama, but his hobby will be playing music, I hope," says his grandfather.
— Upcoming concerts
— Goodwin's "Swan Song" with the Symphony
— Goodwin's History with the Symphony
There are now three generations of Goodwins in the Big Band: Charles on keyboard, grandson Nathan on trumpet, and Goodwin's son Fred on bass. Photo by Allen Frost.
"... I have 10 other musicians in my band who are fine players, but I also have 10 lifelong friends," said Goodwin about his orchestra. Photo by Larry White.