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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Vince Mendoza: Nights on Earth

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It's been 13 years since Vince Mendoza last released an album of all-original music with Epiphany (Zebra, 1999); but it's not as if he hasn't been busy. He's a first-call arranger for high profile jazzers, working on guitarist John Scofield's 54 (EmArcy, 2010), now-deceased keyboard giant Joe Zawinul's Brown Street (Heads Up, 2007), and über-trumpeter Randy Brecker's Some Skunk Funk (Telarc, 2006). He's lived in the pop world with Björk, Elvis Costello and Joni Mitchell, and participated in concept projects like Blauklang (ACT , 2008) and the flamenco-driven El Viento (ACT, 2009). Clearly, for Mendoza, there're only so many hours ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Metropole Orkest / John Scofield / Vince Mendoza: 54

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Metropole Orkest / John Scofield / Vince Mendoza54Emarcy2010

Guitarist John Scofield's shared history with Vince Mendoza dates back to the composer/arranger/conductor's Start Here (World Pacific, 1990) and Instructions Inside (EMI/Manhattan, 1991)--two criminally out of print gems that provided early evidence of Mendoza's distinctive harmonic language, compositional perspicacity and innate ability to get the best out of an ensemble, regardless of the size. Now an in-demand, Grammy Award-winning producer/arranger who has worked with everyone from trumpeter Randy Brecker and the late keyboardist Joe Zawinul to singers Joni Mitchell and Björk, it ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Vince Mendoza / The Metropole Orchestra: El Viento: The Garcia Lorca Project

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After nearly a ten-year break, composer/arranger/conductor Vince Mendoza returned with the Grammy-nominated Blauklang (ACT, 2008). As if intuiting that another decade-long gap would be excessive, he's back a year later with El Viento: The García Lorca Project--this time focusing primarily on conducting a group of guests alongside Holland's Metropole Orchestra, for whom he's been chief conductor and artistic leader. Much in the spirit of his earlier Jazzpaña (ACT, 1993), El Viento explores the marriage of Spanish music--in particular, flamenco--with jazz, but on a considerably larger scale. As ambitious as Epiphany (Zebra, 1999), it's perhaps even more so in its successful ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Vince Mendoza: Blauklang

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For jazz aficionados, composer/arranger Vince Mendoza's artisanship is a well-known entity. However, he's also enamored the works of pop-rock stars of note, including Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello and Sheryl Crow. Mendoza is a master-craftsman who possesses a keen ear to complement his vivid imaginative powers, characteristics that are fastidiously transmitted throughout this rather wondrous 2008 release.

The English translation for the German album title is "blue sound," and emanates from a painting by German artist Ernst Wilhelm Nay (1902-1968). Mendoza's original compositions, sans Miles Davis' opening classic, "All Blues," duly paint a multihued musical portraiture that ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Vince Mendoza: Blauklang

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It's been nearly a decade since composer/arranger Vince Mendoza released the sweepingly orchestral Epiphany (Zebra, 1999), but he's been anything but inactive. The arranger/orchestrator of choice for artists including quirky popstress Bjork and her hit album Vespertine (Elektra, 2001), and Joni Mitchell--reinventing the iconic singer/songwriter's vast songbook on Both Sides Now (Reprise, 2000) and Travelogue (Nonesuch, 2002)--he's remained a vital part of the jazz sphere with his vivid big band arrangements for trumpeter Randy Brecker's Some Skunk Funk (Telarc, 2006) and his exciting rework of Joe Zawinul's Weather Report orchestrations for the WDR Big Band on Brown Street (Heads Up, ...

INTERVIEWS

Vince Mendoza: Color, Counterpoint and Open Ears

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If Vince Mendoza were only known as a composer, he'd still be worth interviewing; his songs have been covered by Pat Metheny, Michael Brecker, Kurt Elling, Charlie Haden and John Abercrombie. He'd be fascinating to talk to if he were only known as a recording bandleader--his early records Start Here (Blue Note, 1990) and Instructions Inside (Blue Note, 1991), his big band CD Sketches (ACT, 1994) and his orchestral recording Epiphany (Zebra, 1999) are all jazz classics that stand up to repeated listenings. He would be strikingly accomplished if he were merely an arranger and conductor, as evidenced by his ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Vince Mendoza/London Symphony Orchestra: Epiphany

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In and out of print since its initial release in '99, composer/arranger Vince Mendoza's Epiphany represents one of the finest examples of orchestration in a jazz setting. While there have been other fine examples of large-scale blending, they have often simply retrofitted existing material, as was the case with last year's Promises Kept , where pianist Steve Kuhn's compositions were lushly interpreted by arranger Carlos Franzetti.

Mendoza is a composer in his own right who may not be known to a broader audience, but has been a favourite source for artists including Gary Burton, John Abercrombie and Charlie Haden since ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Vince Mendoza: Epiphany

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Vince Mendoza is a highly creative and cerebral composer and arranger. Epiphany represents perhaps his most ambitious work to date, a full symphonic program with jazz soloists. The program works the classical to jazz spectrum thoroughly, although most of the emphasis is on modern classical; the suite never quite lets loose on a full jazz romp. The moods range from soft and introspective to medium and mellow; there are no loud or fast passages. The opening movement is entirely soft classical. “Wheaten Sky" continues in this vein, gradually yielding to solos by trumpeter Wheeler and guitarist Abercrombie. “Esperanca" swings farther ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Vince Mendoza: Epiphany

Read "Epiphany"

Vince Mendoza is a highly creative and cerebral composer and arranger. This release represents perhaps his most ambitious work to date, a full symphonic program with jazz soloists. The program works the classical to jazz spectrum thoroughly, although most of the emphasis is on modern classical;  the suite never quite lets loose on a full jazz romp.  The moods range from soft and introspective to medium and mellow;  there are no loud or fast passages.  The opening movement is entirely soft classical.  "Wheaten Sky" continues in this vein, gradually yielding to solos by trumpeter Wheeler and guitarist Abercrombie. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Vince Mendoza: Epihpany

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Composer and arranger Vince Mendoza has explored differing varieties of orchestral music over some half dozen discs since 1988. But it's only for others (Clare Fischer's recent Latin Side and his Grammy nominated work on Blue Note's recent Brian Wilson tribute) that the talented 38-year old has worked with a string orchestra.With Epiphany, Mendoza gets the opportunity to pair his grand sensibilities (and sensitivities) with the London Symphony Orchestra, a distinctive aggregate familiar to many through its presence on lots of British pop records and a variety of film scores, notably those of John Williams.While Epiphany ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Vince Mendoza: Epiphany

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This writer first became aware of composer/arranger Vince Mendoza back in the 1980’s. His Blue Note releases, “Start Here” and “Instructions Inside” both featured an assemblage of cutting edge modern day jazz musicians such as, Peter Erskine and John Scofield. Mendoza’s writing and arranging skills were much ballyhooed; hence, critical acclaim was at his doorstep. Since then, Mendoza has been a busy lad working with the Yellowjackets, Al Jarreau, Al Dimeola, Joe Zawinul, Kyle Eastwood and the GRP All Star Band as the list is quite extensive. On the ambitious “Epiphany” Mendoza recruits some old cronies who are among the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Vince Mendoza: Epiphany

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Vince Mendoza is a 37-year-old American composer and arranger well regarded for his work in both classical and jazz fields. In the latter genre, Mendoza has composed and arranged for Peter Erskine ( Transition ), the Yellowjackets ( Greenhouse ), Kyle Eastwood ( From There To Here ), and dozens of other artists.Mendoza's two worlds meet on Epiphany, a lush eight-piece collection that features the London Symphony Orchestra and seven renowned jazz soloists: Michael Brecker and Joe Lovano (tenor saxophones), Kenny Wheeler (trumpet), John Abercrombie (guitar), John Taylor (piano), Marc Johnson (bass), and Peter Erskine (drums).Mendoza ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Vince Mendoza: Epiphany

Read "Epiphany"

Vince Mendoza is a 37-year-old American composer and arranger well regarded for his work in both classical and jazz fields. In the latter genre, Mendoza has composed and arranged for Peter Erskine ( Transition ), the Yellowjackets ( Greenhouse ), Kyle Eastwood ( From There To Here ), and dozens of other artists.Mendoza's two worlds meet on Epiphany, a lush eight-piece collection that features the London Symphony Orchestra and seven renowned jazz soloists: Michael Brecker and Joe Lovano (tenor saxophones), Kenny Wheeler (trumpet), John Abercrombie (guitar), John Taylor (piano), Marc Johnson (bass), and Peter Erskine (drums).Mendoza ...



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