CD reviews

CD REVIEW: Bob Mintzer Big Band and New York Voices – Meeting of Minds

Bob Mintzer Big Band and New York Voices – Meeting of Minds
(Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, MCG1045. CD Review by Frank Griffith)

Here is an enticing treat for big band and vocal group fans alike, wrapped into a delectable package by the magnificent Bob Mintzer Big Band and the sublime New York Voices. Together, the two forces take a refreshing look at classic standards from the likes of Porter, Kern, Carmichael, Weill, Harburg and DePaul, among others.

The quartet of the Voices blend seamlessly with Mintzer’s resourceful writing that lightly bounces and swerves amongst the scintillating vocal arrangements by baritone Voices singer, Darmon Meader. The influence of legendary vocal groups like Take 6, The Singers Unlimited, The HiLos and Lambert, Hendricks and Ross are clearly evident yet move the genre forward with Mintzer’s modern and distinctive contributions to the canon of big band writing.

His music dances, ducks and dodges convention with its lightness and clarity. A master of writing rhythmic figures, Mintzer’s horn sections deftly bob and weave amongst each other, manoeuvring contrapuntally while never over-egging the broth resulting in obfuscation of the thread and meaning of the song, and message at hand. From my experience as an arranger, I would say this must be one of the most difficult skills to master; it is one of the areas where Mintzer truly excels when writing for a large ensemble.

The combination of the dynamic writing styles of Mintzer and Meader produce an active yet very fresh palette of sounds. These include subtle and harmonic nuances that blend together seamlessly delivering a unique and engaging musical journey.

Several powerhouse soloists of the band deserve mention as well. These include the leader on tenor saxophone, as well as fellow tenorist, Bobby Malach and LA- based alto saxist Bob Sheppard. Baritone saxophonist, Roger Rosenberg, peels off a few robust and heartfelt solos as does trumpeter Scott Wendholt. Young trombonist Jeff Bush, sparkles winningly on his solo outing as does veteran pianist and longtime member of the band, Phil Markowitz.

Meeting of Minds is an outstanding work with its splendid amalgamation of these heroic ensembles. This disc is the worth the risk. Grab it!

LINK: Meeting of Minds at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, Pittsburgh

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