Jazz CD Reviews – early August 2016
August 10, 2016
Bob Mintzer All L.A. Band (Fuzzy Music PEPCD 022)
Heading this fiery big band are saxophonist Bob Mintzer and drummer Peter Erskine who have assembled some of the best musicians on the west coast to perform a selection of Bob’s originals. Some of these pieces were written for the Yellowjackets, of which Bob was a founder member, some for the bands of himself and others. Tracks such as El Caborojeño, Ellis Island, and Latin Dance have an Afro-Cuban subtext, and here and there are touches of r&b, while Havin’ Some Fun and Home Basie mirror the work Count Basie’s Atomic band. When Bob was in the Buddy Rich band he wrote Slo Funk, and Tribute is exactly that for Thad Jones. Worth listing all of the musicians who join Bob and Peter here: Wayne Bergeron, James Blackwell, John Thomas, Chad Willis, Michael Stever (trumpets); Bob McChesney, Erik Hughes, Julianne Gralle, Craig Gosnell (trombones); Bob Sheppard, Adam Schroeder (saxophones); Russ Ferrante (piano); Larry Koonse (guitar); Edwin Livingston (bass); Aaron Serfaty (percussion). Amidst sparkling ensemble playing solo spots abound from several of these fine musicians with Bob mostly in the spotlight. Of more than passing interest to any budding or, indeed, experienced instrumentalists reading this, the music heard here was recorded for the Mintzer Big Band Essentials play-along app. For details of this and also for full big band charts see Bob’s or Peter’s website.
Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Havana Blue (3Sixteen CD31608)
The term Afro-Cuban is freely used in music and not always strictly reflecting the material concerned. No such reservations here. This set is a result of a collaboration between composer and trumpet player Orbert Davis, multi-genre Third Stream orchestra Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, and River North dance ensemble with choreographer Frank Chavez, and it draws inspiration from both Africa and Cuba, blending the forms with great skill. The principal composer of the music heard here is Orbert Davis, although Ernesto Lecuona’s Al Fin Te Vi is heard here as the fifth movement of the seven-part Havana Blue Suite, while there are also pieces by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, Chega de Saudade, and Dizzy Gillespie, Manteca. All of these pieces are performed with an effective blending of orchestral intensity, peppered with bright brass and sonorous reeds, all backed by the pulsating drive of a fiery rhythm section.
Dick Oatts/Mats Holmquist NYJO A Tribute To Herbie +1 (Summit MAA 1049)
The teaming of alto and soprano saxophonist Dick Oatts and arranger Mats Holmquist promises musical excellence and this is certainly delivered by their New York Jazz Orchestra on this celebration of Herbie Hancock. Drawing the band’s members from New York’s seemingly endless supply of jazz and studio musicians as well as an effective smattering of Scandinavians, the co-leaders have at their disposal efficient ensemble players and inventive soloists. The compositions Mats has turned to for his engaging and imaginative charts include some of the most familiar music in the post-bop jazz world. These include Cantaloupe Island (which features the alto of Mark Gross and Adam Birnbaum’s piano), Dolphin Dance (Oatts on soprano and Birnbaum), Eye Of The Hurricane (Joe Magnarelli, trumpet, Walt Weiskopf, tenor, John Riley, drums, and Oatts, this time on alto), and Watermelon Man (Weiskopf again and Frank Basile, baritone). Collectively, the members of the New York Jazz Orchestra playing with verve and enthusiasm and provide a welcome reminder (if one is needed) of Hancock’s intrinsic qualities as a composer. Also heard here is one of Mats’ compositions, Steve R, which admirably suits the overall atmosphere of this vital and always interesting slice of today’s big band music.
For more on these artists go to Jim Eigo’s Jazz Promo Services site.
All albums reviewed here are available from Amazon.