Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Vince Mendoza Metropole Orkest: Olympians

9

Vince Mendoza Metropole Orkest: Olympians

By

Sign in to view read count
Vince Mendoza Metropole Orkest: Olympians
Many years ago Dizzy Gillespie recorded an album called The New Continent (Limelight, 1965). Whether it was commercially successful is hard to say, but it featured an all-star cast of Los Angeles session players. The recording made a deep impression on some listeners because it was creative, dynamic, exotic and simply enjoyable. Good compositions (by Lalo Schifrin), arrangements and musicians will do that, even if the result is a bit different than mainstream jazz. Or mainstream Gillespie.

For some reason, Vince Mendoza's Olympians brings the Gillespie recording to mind. Here too you have intriguing arrangements, superb musicians, and atmospherics galore. Mendoza took the helm of the Metropole Orkest in 1995, and the term "Olympians" is Mendoza's sobriquet for the musicians of the Orkest, people who can play anything. It fits.

The first track, "Quixote," is intriguing, if a bit of a head scratcher. It embeds a barely audible narration in Spanish of which only the word "caballero" is comprehensible. You may not notice it in the vinyl pressing (the download and the physical album are significantly different). Dianne Reeves holds forth on "Esperanto," and the result is almost sacral. "Partido Alto" really does recall Schifrin's work for Gillespie, and could have been written as a part of Alfred Newman's theme for the movie Captain from Castile (1947).

Cecile McLorin Salvant shows why she is widely esteemed as a singer in "House of Reflections." "Barcelona" too sounds as if it could have been written for the cinema, with very intense sax and trumpet interventions framed by accompanying orchestral strings and brass. "Miracle Child" is an extensive narration, exploring varying moods from somber to triumphant, but ending on a tranquil note.

Olympians was recorded remotely during the pandemic. It is yet another lovely artefact of a very troubled time. What the recording lacks in coherence it makes up for in sheer beauty, as if to remind listeners that some good can come out of a series of very dark moments.

Track Listing

Quixote; Esperanto; Miracle Child; Partido Alto; House of Reflections; Barcelona.

Personnel

Vince Mendoza
composer / conductor
Chris Potter
saxophone
David Binney
saxophone, alto
Alex Acuña
percussion
Metropole Orkest
band / ensemble / orchestra

Album information

Title: Olympians | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Modern Recordings

Comments


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Tags

More

Tidal Currents: East Meets West
Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra
This Celestial Engine
This Celestial Engine
Flax
Martin Arnold
Whisper Not
Paul Kendall

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.