Bob Mintzer Big Band: For The Moment (2012)
Musicians can consider themselves lucky if they find success in one particular area, but there are a select few that seem to flourish in every music-related environment that they encounter. Bob Mintzer is part of this elite list; his versatility is his greatest virtue but, while he's a world class saxophonist and educator, his legacy will likely be connected to his work as a composer and arranger in the world of big bands. He learned from the best, sitting in the saxophone section of bands led by Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, Gil Evans, and several other notable figures, and he's been putting his hard-earned knowledge to good use in this area ever since he assembled his first big band to play at the Brecker Brothers' Seventh Avenue South club, in the early '80s.
For his fourth large ensemble outing on the MCG jazz label, Mintzer looks south to Brazil, highlighting another of his great passions. His extensive experience working with, and learning from, big name Brazilians over the years, including Eumir Deodato, Milton Nascimento, Romero Lubambo and Milton Nascimento, gives his work a mark of authenticity that eludes those who merely dabble in this area by adding a bossa nova or two to their repertoire.
Mintzer mixes originals with his arrangements of music from guest guitarist/vocalist Chico Pinheiro, as well as classics from the likes of Antonio Carlos Jobim ("Corcovado") and Baden Powell ("Berimbau"), on this nine-song stroll through Brazil. The performances are highly polished affairs that feature crisp ensemble work, strong solo personalities and buoyant rhythmic backdrops. Pinheiro is featured in several places, delivering vocals and killer, clean-toned guitar soloing on his own "Un Filme" and providing soothing singing on "Corcovado," but he's hardly the only standout on this disc.
Mintzer turned to longtime friend and big band drumming guru Peter Erskine to anchor the band from behind the kit, and he doesn't disappoint. He brings his trademark sense of groove and touch to every piece on the program, from the bouncy baião-based tune that opens the album ("Aha") to a mellow bossa nova take on a '30s classic ("For All We Know"). Mintzer's Yellowjackets band mate, pianist Russell Ferrante, is another key ingredient in the soloist mix, as is underappreciated trumpeter Scott Wendholt, but the ensemble is really the star of the show.
Mintzer is like a musical flavor chemist, making tasty musical admixtures that go down easy, yet have a complex aftertaste. For The Moment furthers what many already know: Mintzer is a monster musician with writing chops that match or surpass his stellar saxophone skills.
Track Listing: Aha; Um Filme; Irrequieto; For All We Know; Berimbau; For The Moment; Redife; Corcovado; Ouro Preto.
Personnel: Bob Mintzer: tenor saxophone, flute; Chico Pinheiro: vocals, guitar; Lawrence Feldman: alto saxohpone, flute; Mike Tomaro: alto saxophone, flute; Bob Malach: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Frank Basile: baritone saxophone, clarinet; Steve Hawk: trumpet; Tony Kadleck: trumpet; James Moore: trumpet; Scott Wendholt: trumpet; Jay Ashby: trombone; Michael Davis: trombone; Keith O'Quinn: trombone; Max Seigel: bass trombone; Russell Ferrante: piano, keyboards; Marty Ashby: guitar; Lincoln Goines: bass; Peter Erskine: Drums; Alex Acuna: percussion.