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Eric Mintel's previous albums have shown his attachment to the Dave Brubeck Quartet. While in this his third album he doesn't entirely discard the influence of his icon, there is a decidedly more modern bent to the music. This advanced approach is due in good part to the presence of the hard bop sax of Neil Wetzel.
The play list has four Mintel originals, a couple of standby classics and Mintel's nod to Brubeck, Desmond's classic "Take Five". As is usually the case, the live audience infuses the quartet with drive and energy as they perform at peak levels. Wetzel's biting sax is heard to great advantage on a lengthy, swinging "Swing Time" as Mintel's piano engages in give and take with bassist Dave Antonow. Jeremy Berberian rips off heavy drum breaks from time to time keeping everyone on their toes.. Mintel's bent for the classical mode is heard in his "Chant" as Wetzel kicks off as if he were playing a piece for saxophone quartet. It then segues nicely into a medium tempo with vestiges of classical influences, especially in Mintel's delicately stoked pianism. Wetzel manages to give his soprano a viola like sound during the coda. More pretty music with a lengthy exposition of "These Foolish Things" featuring Wetzel's sax, this time cool and dry, and Antonow's bass. The album's pièce de resistance is "Take Five". Mintel starts out by replicating Brubeck's familiar introduction. Then it's everyone for himself as the group strikes out on more musical tangents than Brubeck ever used. For more than ten minutes, this tune gets an in depth interpretative MRI examination before the group returns to the basic theme. Every member of the quartet gets a gold star for their efforts as does the album which is recommended. Visit the quartet at www.ericmintelquartet.com.
Track Listing: Swing Time; Beautiful Love; Chant; Boogie Sugar!; These Foolish Things; Take Five; Modal Music
Personnel: Eric Mintel - Piano/Leader; Neil Wetzel- Sax; Dave Antonow - Bass; Jeremy Berberian - Drums
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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