246

The SWR Big Band Featuring Bob Mintzer: The Music of Duke Ellington and Bob Mintzer

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
To celebrate the centenary of Duke Ellington’s birth, Germany’s SWR Big Band joined forces with American saxophonist / big band leader Bob Mintzer for a May ’99 concert performance in Stuttgart that includes half a dozen compositions by Ellington (or associates) and four others by Mintzer. While considerable resourcefulness is needed to transmute any of these timeworn Ellington–style warhorses into front–runners again, Mintzer and the SWR’s Jörg–Achim Keller, each of whom arranged three of them, manage easily to do so, and the band plays their charts with uncommon enthusiasm and dexterity, as is also the case with Mintzer’s stable of well–scrubbed young thoroughbreds (“Runferyerlife,” “New Mambo,” “Carla,” “A Method to the Madness”). The gala concert opens with Ellington / Juan Tizol’s “Caravan,” splendidly redrawn by Mintzer, and continues with Ellington’s “Creole Love Call” and “Sophisticated Lady,” son Mercer Ellington’s “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be” and Duke’s “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.” Mintzer’s four compositions precede the high–spirited closer, Ellington’s “Cottontail,” creatively arranged (as were “Sophisticated Lady” and “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be”) by Keller. As guest soloist Mintzer is conspicuously impressive but is pushed to the limit by SWR’s complement of superlative improvisers who include saxophonist Peter Weniger (soprano on “Caravan” and “Sophisticated Lady,” tenor on “Cottontail” and “Method to the Madness”); trombonists Marc Godfroid, Ian Cumming and Ernst Hutter; trumpeters Karl Farrent and Claus Reichstaller; altos Bernd Rabe and Klaus Graf; tenor Andreas Maile, baritone Rainer Heute, pianist Martin Schrack, bassist Decebal Badila and drummer Wolfgang Haffner. Mintzer, who has always been an enterprising soloist, charges into the breach with more boldness and agility than ever, and is at the top of his game knowing that the muscular SWR ensemble is there to lend its unremitting support. Mintzer’s a topnotch writer too, and his seven charts (including the four compositions) are cogent and charming, as are Keller's three. "Runferyerlife" is what is commonly known as a blazer or barn-burner (with blistering solos by Mintzer, Farrent, Graf and Haffner), "Carla" a winsome ballad on which the more even-tempered aspects of Mintzer's tenor are showcased; "New Mambo" expresses New York native Mintzer's abiding love for Latin music, "Method to the Madness" his penchant for writing contrapuntal lines that are as persuasive as they are swinging. Persuasive is a word that also describes quite accurately the concert as a whole. As a team, Mintzer and the SWR Big Band are well-nigh invincible. That is to say, while others may interpret this music as well as they, it is almost impossible to envision anyone doing it better. Listen for yourself and be convinced.

Contact:Sunny Moon Musikvertrieb, Kirchstrasse 40, 79100 Freiburg, Germany. Phone (07 61) 78622; fax (07 61) 78861.


Track Listing: Caravan; Creole Love Call; Sophisticated Lady; Things Ain

Personnel: Bernd Rabe, Klaus Graf, Peter Weniger, Andreas Maile, Reiner Heute, reeds; Thomas Vogel, Klaus Reichstaller, Karl Farrent, Rudi Reindl, trumpet; Ernst Hutter, Marc Godfroid, Ian Cumming, Georg Maus, trombone; Martin Schrack, piano; Klaus

| Record Label: CIC Records | Style: Big Band


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Agartha" CD/LP/Track Review Agartha
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "Joseph Kudirka:  Beauty and Industry" CD/LP/Track Review Joseph Kudirka: Beauty and Industry
by John Eyles
Published: March 9, 2016
Read "Los Guachos V" CD/LP/Track Review Los Guachos V
by Budd Kopman
Published: July 1, 2016
Read "Father Figure" CD/LP/Track Review Father Figure
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 3, 2016
Read "Live In New York" CD/LP/Track Review Live In New York
by John Sharpe
Published: October 4, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!