Title - Soundscapes
Artist - Bob Mintzer & WDR Big Band Cologne
For those unaware, as chief conductor of the great WDR Big Band for the last 6 years, Bob Mintzer was ready to showcase his own material with the world class large ensemble.
An amalgam of moods, grooves and intricate textures, Soundscapes (out now via MCG Jazz) not only showcases Mintzers writing for this indelibly tight, universally esteemed ensemble, it also finds him doing double duty as principal soloist on tenor sax and Electronic Wind Instrument (EWI) - while providing a spotlight for such other outstanding soloists as longtime WDR members Paul Heller on tenor sax, Karolina Strassmayer and Johan Horlen on alto saxes, Ruud Breuls and Andy Haderer on trumpets and Andy Hunter on trombone.
1. A Reprieve
2. The Conversation
3. Stay Up
6. Canyon Winds
7. Herky Jerky
8. New Look
9. One Music
Few composers write mostly original music for large ensemble and hardly any, then, have much of the music available in a published format for other bands and students to study and play.
Thus, Mintzer stands alone as the preeminent composer/arranger for big band at this time and brings that classification instantly to the fore on the gently funky opening track, A Reprieve of which he seamlessly backs with the melodiously upbeat The Conversation, the finger-snapping Stay Up, and then brings us both the free wheeling ambiance of Montuno and more gentle funk, this time in the form of Whack.
Up next is the simply magnificent percussion work of Canyon Winds and the frenetically controlled, big band vibe of Herky Jerky, which are both followed by the near 10 minute ballad New Look, the album rounding out on the dancefloor hipsway of both One Music and the ultra vibrant VM.
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