By Brian Turk
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This year marks drummer Bill Goodwin's fiftieth as a professional musician. During the past 35 years, he's performed with, recorded with and produced albums for legendary alto saxophonist Phil Woods in addition to working with Bill Evans, Dexter Gordon, Gary Burton and Keith Jarrett. Goodwin also played on Tom Waits's 1975 album Nighthawks at the Diner, which was one of his favorite gigs, he says. In recent years, the timekeeper has been teaching at William Paterson University's jazz studies program, which is directed by pianist Mulgrew Miller. For his upcoming two-night stand at Dazzle, Goodwin will be joined by New York-based saxophonist Adam Neiwood, with whom he's collaborated for the last decade; trumpeter Ron Miles; bassist Ken Walker; and Goodwin's son, Max, better known in these parts as DJ Klaw.
Westword: What are you guys planning to do at the Dazzle gigs?
Bill Goodwin: We're going to be playing original music, and it'll be a mixture of actual melodies combined with improvisation — mostly, I'd say, 90 percent improvised music. We never know exactly what we'll do, but we have a format, which is the organized music for horns and bass and drums, and then Max will set us up or we'll set him up. He creates these soundscapes. He does the club gigs where he plays for dancing and stuff, and this will have some element of that, but we never know exactly what we're going to do. He's a really good improviser, and, of course, he's got that whole world of music at his fingertips. Sometimes we start, or he starts and we just join in and play for an hour, then we stop and we do it again after the break.
What was it like working with Tom Waits on Nighthawks at the Diner?
It was a big room at the Record Plant in L.A. We set it up like a nightclub, so we were on stage, and it was like we were playing a concert in a room. The people were so into it; it was a great atmosphere. I actually got so into it that I forgot we were recording. We were in this concert and totally into the music. The guy's a real spellbinder, and I kind of came out of my trance and realized we were recording and there were all these people in the studio. It was a wonderful experience working with Waits. Such a marvelous talent, and we had a ball together. After that, we did some live work together. Up to that time, except for recording, he'd never worked with a band; he had always played solo. After we did Nighthawks, then he got me to get a little group together, and we did a bunch of gigs in New York and Boston. After that, he always worked with other musicians. That was an honor, to get involved in his career at that point.