A diverse yet intense manipulation of sound and composition best illustrates the critique of Mintzer’s first live recording, Bob Mintzer Big Band "Live at MCG with Special Guest Kurt Elling" project released by MCG Jazz for 2004. Inundated with avenues of vibrant musical multiplicity, Grammy Award Winner Mintzer brings to the table not only a vast array of major jazz talents but also a premiere vocal compliment in the name of Kurt Elling. With most of the cuts evolving from his own mind he allows the bonding of numerous genres to infiltrate the project as well as the ear of the listener.
Two auditory phases appear from this work, the stimulating live performance from which a freefall of improvisation add to the success I feel this direct jazz effort will produce. The other is the dynamic vocal effort brought to the stage by Kurt Elling, very cool very unique, with a boatload of panache and at times scatt-esk elegance.
For the big band aficionados, Mintzer satisfies the taste buds of a long awaited appetite for the sound that brings fervor to even the most novice of jazz. Twenty years have made this fine effort stand alone along with the help of Kurt Elling. Lets not forget also some fine efforts from talents like Phil Markowitz on keys, John Riley shaving the skins, and Rufus Reid bringing the bass to the forefront, along with others.
Two cuts will jump out at the listener as soon as they push play. "Eye of the Hurricane" is scat driven, hot and heavy with a strong rebirth to an old and intensity motivated improv-technique. Elling along with the Bob Mintzer Big Band makes this cut swirl with winds of vengeance.
"All is Quiet" is a gentle and passionate ballad co written by Elling and Mintzer. The saxophone throughout the piece is a strong foundation for any romantic interlude. The piano is soft yet tenderly exposed as Elling’s voice serenades the audience and lonely hearts.
If at all a fan of excellence in jazz, splice this into your life at some time. The Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, alongside Mintzer make a solid contribution to jazz in 2004.Karl Stober is an international freelance columnist and broadcaster who can be reached at
. Karl can also be reached at 1-802-380-6065.