A Double-Barrel of Bob Mintzer

Elliott Simon By

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The Body Acoustic
The Body Acoustic
Chesky Records

For The Body Acoustic , pianist David Chesky has wisely engaged Bob Mintzer to play bass clarinet and cleverly given him equal footing with Randy Brecker's muted trumpet. Even in its soaring upper register, the bass clarinet has a beautiful resonance and a deep rich texture just not possible with brass. With an allegiance to Weather Report's I Sing the Body Electric, the session weaves mood inducing rhythmscapes that range from relaxing grooves to tension-filled forays, thanks primarily to Giovanni Hidalgo's congas and bassist Andy Gonzalez. Due in part to these hypnotic conga and bass rhythms, each piece shares a sound that can be described as Latino mysterioso. This allows the other musicians to act as tour guides across titles that reflect a NYC framework. Within the familiarity and safety of the smooth groove of "52nd Street", Chesky, Brecker and Mintzer meet and engage their instruments in initial casual repartee; we are then taken to "East Harlem" where things are revved up a notch as a manic Chesky is brought back under control by Mintzer's clarinet. In upscale "Bronxville", Mintzer and Gonzalez face off until Hidalgo turns the sleepy suburb on to some hot conga playing. With stops in between, that include "Hell's Kitchen", the quintet all end up in full blown jam at the "Club Descarga".

Bob Mintzer Big Band
Live at MCG with Kurt Elling
MCG Jazz

While The Body Acoustic enthralls with its relentlessness, the latest contribution from Mintzer's Big Band recorded Live at MCG is an all out aural affair featuring the vocal calisthenics of Kurt Elling. With a similar lineup to last year's Gently , this live date has a harder edge, perhaps due to the exclusion of the French horns and the inclusion of a rhythm section of bassist Rufus Reid and drummer John Riley. The ideal acoustics of Pittsburgh's Manchester Craftsmen's Guild is up to the task of capturing the Big Band as they make their way through a program of standards like "One O'clock Jump", regrooved cuts off Gently , and three superb numbers that feature Elling. Mintzer's arrangement of Herbie Hancock's "Eye of the Hurricane" standouts as Elling stratospherically skats his way to the outer limits of the human voice in a no-holds-barred showdown with Mintzer's tenor.

The Body Acoustic
Tracks: 52nd Street, East Harlem, Bronxville, Hell's Kitchen, New York Descargas, Acoustic Metal, N.Y. Cool, Club Descarga

Personnel: Bob Mintzer (bass clarinet), Giovanni Hidalgo (congas), Andy Gonzalez (bass), David Chesky (piano), Randy Brecker (trumpet)

Live at MCG
Tracks: El Caborojéno, My Foolish Heart, One O'Clock Jump, Gently, Eye Of The Hurricane, Timeless, All Is Quiet, Who's Walkin' Who, Original People

Personnel: Bob Mintzer (tenor sax), Kurt Elling (vocals); Lawrence Feldman (saxophone), Peter Yellin (alto sax), Bob Mallach (tenor sax), Roger Rosenberg (baritone sax); Frank Greene, Bob Millikan, Scott Wendholt, Michael Philip Mossman (trumpet); Michael Davis, Larry Farrell, Keith O'Quinn (trombone); David Taylor (bass trombone); Phil Markowitz (piano); Rufus Reid (bass); John Riley (drums)


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