Bob Mintzer: Amazing Reach

Bob Kenselaar By

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AAJ: Another interesting recent recording you've made is with the Turkish pianist and composer Fahir Ada Koglu, Faces & Places (Far & Here, 2009).

BM: That was a challenging project. He wrote very ambitious music in odd meters. We play in odd meters with the Yellowjackets quite a lot, so I was fairly at home there, but this guy's a real virtuoso writer and player, and that was an interesting project to do.

AAJ: What other recordings that you've made stand out in your mind?

BM: The first big-band record I made, Incredible Journey (DMP, 1990)-that was sort of a new thing, a new way of recording, where we got all the wind players in a circle around one mic. It was a great band. Just the way the music was captured was pretty unusual. The first couple of records we did for DMP were interesting. I did a record called One Music (DMP, 1992) with the members of the Yellowjackets, which was another interesting record. My writing is a little different on that, for some reason. Maybe it was just the combination of where I was coming from with the members of the Yellowjackets, sort of taking them in another direction.

AAJ: On your records with MCG Jazz, the notes mention that some of the proceeds go to the programs that the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild sponsors.

BM: Yes, the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild is an organization that provides different kinds of training for inner-city people, young and old. They have a culinary school, a horticulture school, they teach courses in the fine arts and music. They tutor students and have adult education programs. It's quite an interesting and important organization. The jazz arm of MCG grew out of the interest of Bill Strickland, the founder, who is a jazz fan. It started out as a concert series. They have a beautiful 400-seat concert space down there, and eventually it expanded outward to a recording situation. All the concerts are recorded live, and they've been putting out CDs for a lot of these concerts. It's just a great organization that's there for all the right reasons. They do a great job as a record company, and it's run by musicians. They're very sympathetic to how this all works and how it should go. I feel very fortunate to be associated with them.

AAJ: Do you have any other big projects coming up?

BM: There's the new record the Yellowjackets are doing a couple of months away. I have another big-band project I'm starting to think about, and I want to do another organ trio record in late spring with Larry Goldings and Peter Erskine. I have a couple writing projects, something with the WDR Big Band in Cologne in February, and I'm supposed to do something for two classical soloists and one jazz soloist with a big band in Austria next summer. I'm supposed to go to Brazil with Vince Mendoza and a 10-piece ensemble to play some of Vince's music. I played on Vince's last record, which is extraordinary. He's amazing. And at USC, I'm going to take the school big band to the Jazz Education Network conference in January. So a lot of things are in the works. Yeah, I think that's more than enough.

AAJ: You've had such a long, successful life in music, and you've done so much. What are you really proudest about in your musical career?

BM: That's a tough question. I guess I'm proud of the ability to keep going with what I'm doing and keep growing and writing, learning and expanding. Reaching other people with the music- that's an amazing thing. I'll get an e-mail from somebody from somewhere on the other side of the earth that says they were inspired by either a musical project I was associated with or something I had written. That really feels good. It feels like you're affecting somebody in a positive way.

I know when I hear great music, it makes me hopeful and inspired and optimistic, and that's a great way to influence people. So, if I can do that for a prolonged period of time, well, that's something. I sure hope I can keep doing this for as long as possible.

Selected Discography

Bob Mintzer Big Band, For the Moment (MCG, 2012)
Vince Mendoza, Nights on Earth (Horizon, 2011)
Yellowjackets, Timeline (Mack Avenue, 2011)
Bob Mintzer, Canyon Cove (Pony Canyon, 2010)
Fahir Atakoglu, Faces & Places (Far & Here, 2009)
Bob Mintzer Big Band, Swing Out (MCG, 2008)
Bob Mintzer Quartet, In the Moment (Art of Life, 2007)
Yellowjackets, Twenty Five (Heads Up, 2006)
Bob Mintzer Big Band, Old School, New Lessons (MCG, 2006)
Yellowjackets, Mint Jam (Universal/Polygram, 2002)
Bob Mintzer Big Band, Homage to Count Basie (DMP, 2001)
John Abercrombie/Peter Erskine/Bob Mintzer/John Patitucci, The Hudson Project (Stretch, 2000)
Bob Mintzer Quartet, Quality Time (TVT, 1998)
Yellowjackets, Club Nocturne (Warner Bros., 1998)
Bob Mintzer/Gil Goldstein, Longing (Sunnyside, 1997)
Yellowjackets, Dreamland (Warner Bros., 1995)
Bob Mintzer/Michael Brecker, Twin Tenors (Novus, 1994)
Yellowjackets, Run for Your Life (GRP, 1993)
Bob Mintzer/Michael Formanek/Jeff Andrews/Peter Erskine, I Remember Jaco (Novus, 1992)
Yellowjackets, Like a River (GRP, 1992)
Bob Mintzer, One Music (DMP, 1991)
Bob Mintzer Big Band, Incredible Journey (DMP, 1990)
Bob Mintzer & the Horn Man Band, Papa Lips (Explore, 1983)
Jaco Pastorius, Birthday Concert (Warner Bros., 1981)
Buddy Rich, Plays and Plays and Plays (BMG, 1977)

Photo Credits

Pages 1, 3, 8: Courtesy of Bob Mintzer
Page 2: David Samiec

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