Live at MCG with Special Guest Kurt Elling is the ensemble’s first live recording, captured in state-of-the-art audio and video formats at the Manchester Craftsman’s Guild. The album includes live versions of songs that appear on the Bob Mintzer Big Band’s numerous recordings over the past 10 years. The set reflect Mintzer’s passion for merging traditional American big band jazz to various other styles.
Mintzer has been the saxophone voice of the Yellowjackets for 14 years. He has recorded 11 albums with the group and typically spends four months per year with them. Apart from the Yellowjackets, his primary focus is the Bob Mintzer Big Band.
For fans not familiar with the ensemble, there’s no better introduction than the new live album.
The opener, the Latin-influenced El Caborojeno, is a perfect example. The ensemble fires it up in a big way with this Mintzer composition, one of six on the disc.
Vocalist Kurt Elling joins the ensemble for a tranquil rendering of the standard My Foolish Heart. Next up is the Count Basie signature, One O’Clock Jump. Mintzer and company do more than justice to this classic; they add their own sassy, brassy flare to it.
The upswing tempo comes back with Mintzer’s Gently. Herbie Hancock’s Eye of the Hurricane follows, featuring a sizzling scat by Elling and brilliant horn play. Mintzer’s Timeless is next, featuring a sensational baritone sax solo by Roger Rosenburg.
Elling returns in the somber All Is Quiet, co-written by Elling and Mintzer.
The final two tracks are Mintzer compositions. Who’s Walkin’ Who is a swingin’ tune that features a slick trombone solo by Larry Farrell. Original People closes this set in grand style.
Live at MCG is an hour and 10 minutes of old-school jazz presented in a contemporary package. Mintzer and his cast are first rate.