Tackling tradition and applying innovation has long been a hallmark of Bob Mintzer's career. He's paid his dues, both in old school circles and in the realm of contemporary jazz. As evidenced through his big band's 2004 and '05 appearances in Pittsburgh, new lessons continue to bring joy to both creator and audience.
With Kurt Elling sitting in with the big band for two numbers and the Yellowjackets sitting in for two others, Mintzer's "new lessons take shape up front and in your face. The guest artists provide unique sounds that simply aren't a part of the traditional big band arrangement.
Elling sings with a casual air, but with an innovative presence. He gives John Coltrane's "Resolution a powerful vocalese interpretation that leads the big band with authority. Scott Wendholt's surging flugelhorn solo complements the singer's driving energy. Elling takes the emotion sky-high as he and the band honor the song's composer appropriately.
Mintzer picks up the EWI for "Mofongo with a Yellowjackets texture that scurries fast and furious. Smooth and cool in appearance, but buzzing like a lethal insect underneath, the interpretation combines inside strength with an outer layer of sweetness.
Mintzer's big band arrangements maintain a firm balance between sections. His use of deep, lower brass pedals along with bass gives "Not Quite Yet a firm foundation upon which his saxophone section rides gracefully. The New Orleans shuffle of "March Majestic allows the band's saxophone section to converse with both brass sections in a rambling affair.
Outstanding soloists on this recommended big band session include Mintzer, trumpeter Terrell Stafford, pianist Phil Markowitz, tenor saxophonist Bob Malach and baritone saxophonist Scott Robinson.
Track Listing: Not Quite Yet; Mofongo; My One and Only Love; Runferyerlife; Mosaic; Resolution; March Majestic; Black Sand; Go Go.
Personnel: Bob Mintzer: tenor saxophone, flute; Peter Yellin, Lawrence Feldman: alto saxophone, flute; Bob Malach: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Scott Robinson: baritone saxophone, clarinet; Scott Wendholt: trumpet, flugelhorn; Bob Millikan, Terrell Stafford, Frank Greene: trumpet; Michael Davis, Jason Jackson, Larry Farrell: trombone; David Taylor: bass trombone; Phil Markowitz: piano; Jay Anderson: bass; John Riley: drums; Kurt Elling: vocals on