CD review

Bob Mintzer Big Band – Get Up

Bob Mintzer Big Band – Get Up
(Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild MCGJ1040. CD review by Frank Griffith)

Bob Mintzer, saxophonist, flautist and composer-arranger, celebrates his 20th big band recording with Get Up which offers up a full bore treatment of late ’60s and early ’70s-era rock, funk and R&B – a triumvirate of idioms that run strongly  through all of Mintzer’s recordings. The first one was Papa Lips which was released in 1983.

All of the music on Get Up is clearly R&B-influenced but often veers into other directions. This is enabled by the big band instrumentation combining the rhythmic force and intensity with a bountiful array of colour and textural qualities that elevate the overall sound to something new and original.

Mintzer, who heralds from New Rochelle, NY, says in his liner note “Training as a musician in NYC, one was exposed to Jazz, R&B music, Afro-Cuban music, ethnic music from all over the world and just about every kind of music imaginable. So many possibilities in terms of combining elements to find new ways to play and write.”

The rhythm team includes two members of the Yellowjackets – Russell Ferrante (piano), and Will Kennedy (drums) – a band that Mintzer has been a part of since 1991. Also aboard is San Francisco bred guitarist, Ray Obeido, and veteran NYC bassist, Will Lee, who was the original bassist with Bob’s big band in 1982. Their command and creativity in laying down the “foundational funksterism” is astonishing, to say the least. They provide the catupult to the full capitulation of the horns delivering the grooves and beats that fiercely knock the listener’s back out of whack.

Three of the nine selections which are sequenced back to back are iconic soul staples; The Isley Brothers’ It’s Your Thing, Sam and Dave’s I Thank You, and Sly and the Family Stone’s Sing a Simple Song. The other non-original song, Wayne Shorter’s Elegant People (from Weather Report’s 1976 Black Market) melds seamlessly with  Mintzer’s compostions. This is testament to his ability to deliver his focus and vision to the overall unity of the material on Get Up.

A bevy of exciting and powerful soloists, too numerous to mention here, include Mintzer and Bob Malach on tenor saxophone, LA-based alto saxist Bob Sheppard and long-standing BMBB baritone saxophonist Roger Rosenberg. Trumpet solo chores are handled more than ably by John Daversa and Scott Wenhold as are the trombone improvisations of Keith O’Quinn (another original member of the band), Mike Davis and Andy Hunter.

Mintzer also writes: “If you can think of a concept or an idea to underscore with music, the music follows. There is no replacement for writing a lot on the road toward developing a sound and concept.”

Get Up certainly offers up a new and winning sound and concept that takes the Bob Mintzer Big Band into a fresh realm that is not only welcome but groundbreaking as well. Literally. Scoop this “drastic plastic” up soonish and grab some new dancing shoes as well.

LINK: Manchester Craftmen’s Guild

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