Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bob Mintzer Big Band For The Moment MCG 2012 2012

Street Date 06/19/12

The Bob Mintzer Big Band is one of about a half dozen big bands that are truly worth your time. Not that other big bands have nothing to offer because they do, I am simply referring to the top shelf of a genre that has seen minimal in significant development of the last 40 plus years. As a tenor player myself I have admired Mintzer for years so when the opportunity presented itself to ask Bob Mintzer a question about critics at the Jen Convention here in Louisville back in January I had to act on the opportunity. I asked Bob how much if any attention he paid to critics and his response was certainly noteworthy as Mintzer stated, "Not everything sucks. Everyone has something to offer." While I don't know if I agree with that in the literally context presented, when it comes to Mintzer's latest For The Moment you may have discovered the finest most inventive big band project in decades!

Bob Mintzer's Grammy Award winning big band has explored a variety of styles but given their illustrious 25 year recording history the spotlight now shifts to the Brazilian songbook. To be more precious while some of tunes are directly from the Brazilian songbook this sets up Mintzer to do what he does best which is concentrate on a focus more so than the academic functionality of authenticity. Loosely translated their is a spirit to the Mintzer big band unmatched by any ensemble of similar size and scope. Passion always triumphs over form and functionality in this particular setting.

A rising star is Brazilian guitarist Chico Pinheiro with whom Mintzer has been working with over the last several years and he obviously holds Pinheiro in high regard referring to his writing as, ""subtle and intricate, all-encompassing and fresh sounding, with Brazilian lyricism and the complexity of jazz." There is no expiration date on musical freshness and that is what the Bob Mintzer Big Band and For The Moment bring to the table. Other incredible guests include legendary drummer Peter Erskine, pianist Russell Ferante and the brilliant percussionist Alex Acuna.

For The Moment is a showcase for some of Mintzer's most passionate and emotionally charged work to date. Mintzer does not set out to do a typical Brazilian release but instead a unique personal riff breaking the music down to his own personal interpretation for his own creativy purposes. A serious recording none the less but adventurous in where his own interpretation takes the music along with the stellar guest artists previously mentioned. The key to success here may be that Mintzer is not a huge fan of what most of us consider the old fashioned screaming big band but instead attempts to create a sound for a small to mid size ensemble with orchestral overtones.

"For All We Know" is a tune connected to World War II and Mintzer dials up the musical poignancy with a subtle bossa beat. Mintzer creates the same intimate feel on the title track "For The Moment." This less is more approach allows for texture and a clear understanding of the harmonic movement that mark each piece. Pinheorp contributes two originals with "Um Filme" which is an elegant framework for his lithe guitar work and "Irrequieto" an expansive harmonic exploratory celebrating the grandeur if not thematic bent associated with this stellar release.

One of the years finest releases and guaranteed a spot on my best of 2012!

Tracks: Aha; Um Filme; Irrequieto; For All We Know; Berimbau; For The Moment; Recife; Corcovado; Ouro Preto.

Personnel: Bob Mintzer: tenor saxophone, flue; Chico Pinheiro: vocals, guitar; Lawrence Feldman: alto saxophone, flue; Mike Tomaro: alto saxophone, flue; Bob Malach: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Frank Basile; baritone saxophone, clarinet; Steve Hawk: trumpet; Tony Kadleck: trumpet; James Moore: trumpet; Scott Wendholt: trumpet; Jay Ashby: trombone; Michael Davis: trombone; Keith O'Quinn: trombone; Max Siegel: bass trombone; Russell Ferante: piano/keyboards; Marty Ashby: guiar; Lincoln Goines: bass; Peter Erskine: drums; Alex Acuna: percussion (Aha, Recife, Berimbau).