Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 24, 2008) Yamaha Corporation of America paid special tribute to its employees on May 20 at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center in Cerritos, Calif. with an extraordinary concert produced by Yamaha Corporate Artist Affairs, Inc. to thank the employees for their hard work and service to the company. Artists Patti Austin, Natalie Cole, The Manhattan Transfer and Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band played to a pack and enthusiastic crowd of Yamaha employees and their guests.
"We are grateful to have such wonderful Yamaha artists and great friends in the entertainment industry who graciously lent their time and talents to make this an unforgettable night for our employees. It is because of our unique relationships with these artists that we are able to produce such a world class concert event," comments Chris Gero, vice president of Yamaha Corporate Artist Affairs, Inc. and show producer.
An art deco inspired stage featuring two live 24' palm trees, a black and white checkered floor, a disco ball, custom-made purple and white bandstands, and two LCD light-up half-round stair units added to the ambiance of the big band themed evening. The stage was also set with a 22' video projection screen that lowered from the ceiling to show custom video animation throughout the evening.
Gordon Goodwin and his 17 member band opened the show with an arrangement of "Sing, Sang, Sung." Comprised of L.A.'s finest musicians, Goodwin's two-time GRAMMY Award winning jazz ensemble celebrates and personifies the best of the big band tradition with a very contemporary sound.
Early in the evening, big band member and saxophonist Eric Marienthal played a duet with music director and Yamaha bassist Nathan East to "Play That Funky Music," before giving the stage away to pop/R&B and jazz sensation Patti Austin.
Austin performed six songs off her GRAMMY Award winning album Avant Gershwin
, including "Funny Face," "Who Cares" and "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise." The impossibly versatile singer did not let the audience down, bringing to the stage her warm spirit, charisma and the kind of attitude that would do her idol, Gershwin, proud.
Show highlights also included performances by The Manhattan Transfer. Tim Hauser, Janice Siegel, Alan Paul and Cheryl Bentyne took to the stage effortlessly, performing some of their greatest hits, including "Birdland" and "Tuxedo Junction." Founded in 1972, the group is famous for mixing jazz, big band and popular music styles, and they didn't disappoint.
The legendary, eight-time GRAMMY Award winner Natalie Cole rounded out the evening, performing "Come Rain Or Come Shine," "This Will Be," and "Smile," among other hits. One of the most magnificent moments of the night was when Cole performed her legendary virtual duet "Unforgettable" with her late father, Nat King Cole, via the 22' projection screen.
Also shown on the big screen were two videos: "The Discovery," which highlights all of the artists who play Yamaha instruments, and "I Am Yamaha," a special video about the importance of each and every Yamaha employee to the world of music, both created and produced by YCAA. Natalie closed the show with her rendition of "Let There Be Love."