Take Five With Eric Mintel

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Eric Mintel: Eric Mintel and the Eric Mintel Quartet have cultivated a distinctive style in jazz, combining an exciting and delicate lyrical sense with a powerful and dramatic musical force. Going beyond the traditional forms and standard techniques of American jazz, this quartet is changing the landscape of jazz and broadening its audience.

Instrument(s): piano, alto sax, bass and drums

Teachers and/or influences? Dave Brubeck Bill Evans Duke Ellington Michel Camilo Chick Corea Marian McPartland Bob Dorough

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... As a young kid and an only child I kept thinking about music and day-dreaming of becoming a jazz musician.

Your sound and approach to music: Closely related to that of Dave Brubeck—melodically oriented and always keeping the element of surpirse in the improvisations and playing to the audience and making them part of the creative process. It's always a new approach with each audience. That's what keeps it fresh.

Your teaching approach: I tell music students who want to make a go at jazz and tell them first and foremost not to play for free. It's doing a disservice to the jazz men and women and a disservice to the quality of music in the jazz community. We have to fight for better wages as jazz musicians. I also tell them to listen to as much jazz as possible but to find your own style. Also get some of your musician friends together and just play.

Your dream band: I'm working with them now with Nelson Hill on alto sax, soprano sax and flute, Dave Antonow on 5 string sadowski electric bass and Dave Mohn on drums. Doesn't get better than that.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: Worst experience was a nightmare 9 1/2 hour ride to the University of Buffalo in winter and when we got to the concert no one showed because they never publicized it. It was the one time I decided to let a venue take care of the promotion, in that instance it was a wrong move. And they didn't have the check. There are too many "best" experience's to mention but one that stands out recently was last month. We performed at the University of Vermont's Lane Concert Series to a packed to the rafters concert hall with enthusiastic jazz fans and fans of the EMQ with a standing o. Another was in Southern Pines, NC where they we're yelling "Come Back!" and our concerts at the Allentown Symphony Hall Jazz Cabaret series is always packed with fans and we always have a great time.

Favorite venue: Too many to mention. One of the things I strive for is great working relationships with our venues. A few that come to mind are Jazz'd Tappas Bar in Savannah, GA, Savannah Jazz Festival, and pretty much any venue we've played in Georgia. They treat us like family there, it's great. Kimmel Center in Philadelphia for the acoustics and enthusiasm. Looking ahead we're performing at the Kitano in NYC on May 21st and I'm looking forward to performing there. A couple of great clubs that treat us well are the Waterwheel in Doylestown (PA) and the Stockton Inn in NJ.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? Ground-Breaker and our new CD A Tribute to Dave Brubeck. These two CD's because of the guys in the quartet, our engineer Jim McGee and the atmosphere Jim McGee and Dae Bennett created at Bennett's Studio in Englewood, NJ.

The first jazz album I bought was: Time Out by the Dave Brubeck Quartet

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? I would hope that I'm making more of an awareness of jazz music into the public conscience. Jazz is such a positive and powerful music. I hope along the way I'm helping people to listen to something new and creative and utilizing their imagination.

Did you know... I've achieved all of these great accomplishments we've had by paying some incredibly insane dues. I'm celebrating 15 years as the leader of the quartet this year.

CDs you are listening to now: Beethoven's Ode to Joy and Bach's Mass in b minor.

Desert Island picks: Dave Brubeck - Jazz Impressions of Japan Vince Guaraldi - Good Grief Charlie Brown Don Rickles - Hello Dummy David Bowie - Scary Monsters

How would you describe the state of jazz today? Good but could be better. On a great note some of the kids coming out of High School (providing they have a jazz program that hasn't been cut) are amazing and great to see. Jazz needs more exposure in the form of TV and film. We need more jazz shows like the one Ramsey Lewis was hosting called Legends of Jazz.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Musicians constantly honing their skills, experimentation with new forms in jazz and constant media attention and television exposure.

What is in the near future? The release of our new Tribute to Brubeck CD, our performance coming up at the Kitano on May 21st in NYC at 8 and 10pm, solidifying a performance again this year at the Savannah Jazz Festival and to constantly keep working everyday.

By Day: I book the EMQ's gigs and am a husband and father.
About Eric Mintel
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