Fourteen years with the Yellowjackets is only a part of what saxophonist Bob Mintzer represents. He has also led his big band and smaller ensembles through jazz's mainstream time and again over a career that spans more than thirty years of contemporary jazz. His tenor saxophone gives this album a cool quality that turns each melody into a flexible vine that grows around and through the garden.
The occasion for this session was a gathering of friends; thus, the spontaneity and cohesiveness of their performance. The balance of the recording gives all four instrumental voices an equal presence. Piano and saxophone spend a lot of time moving side by side through melodic encounters that warm the room. December in Ossining, New York can put a chill in the air. Mintzer's quartet takes care of that right quick.
"Time After Time" and "Listen Here" ring familiar, while the other selections are original pieces. Pianist Phil Markowitz contributes "Forgiveness," which closes the session with a soulful ballad commentary.
Mintzer picks up his bass clarinet for "Blues, which lets everyone release with considerable ease. It's the high point of the album. Here, the quartet finds a comfortable groove that won't quit. Clarinet and piano roll with the punches, while bass and drums drive solidly underneath. The ease with which Mintzer's quartet takes to the blues makes you want to sit right down and create some lyrics for the song.
He also plays bass clarinet on "What's the Word, which provides a light melody that swings comfortably. A light, Latin groove shows up in "Play Pretty, which shares its gentle nature with a dance-like quality.
Mintzer delivers a fresh session with his quartet that reminds us how valuable good friends can be. He and his three musical partners share their Moment with a mainstream audience that can represent all aspects of the far-reaching jazz umbrella.
Straight Ahead; Listen Here; Time After Time; Aha; Simple Song; What's the Word; Play Pretty; Blues; Forgiveness.
Bob Mintzer: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Jay Anderson: bass; Phil Markowitz: piano; John Riley: drums.
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