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Bob Mintzer - Meeting Of Minds

by Kate Gamm

 

 

 

Bob Mintzer

 


‘A musically rich meeting of minds’ is how producer Marty Ashby describes an interesting new collaboration between the Bob Mintzer Big Band and acapella group, New York Voices. Drawing on the Great American Songbook from the 1930s and 1940s, the quartet’s vocals are enhanced by modern arrangements of classic songs by Grammy Award winner Bob Mintzer.

 

It is not the first time Bob Mintzer and the New York Voices have performed together - here is a video of them back in 2014 introducing gigs at Tokyo's Blue Note.

 

 

 

Bob Mintzer leads several musical lives that, at times, seem humanly impossible for one person to sustain. For twenty years he’s been a member of the Grammy award winning jazz fusion band Yellowjackets;  he’s chair of jazz studies at the University of Southern California;  he writes books on jazz;  he writes for orchestra, concert band and big band;  he travels with his own quartet;  and plays with numerous other bands around the globe.

 

Here is in 2016 guesting with the California State University Jazz 'A' Band playing a beautiful version of Everything Happens To Me.

 

 

 

 

Bob Mintzer

 

 

 

Bob Mintzer was born in New Rochelle, New York in 1953. He says: 'Jazzmobile, an organization that sponsored jazz performances around the greater New York metropolitan area, sent a quintet consisting of Dr. Billy Taylor, Grady Tate, Ron Carter, Harold Land, and Blue Mitchell to the New Rochelle High School in 1967. I was a sophomore at the time. I think it was then and there that I decided that music would be my calling. Later that year I was taken to the Village Gate to hear the double bill of the Miles Davis Quintet and the Thelonious Monk Quartet. From that point on I went to as many live performances as I could on the budget of a 16-18 year old. During my formative years I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to hear Sonny Rollins, Miles, Monk, Sonny Stitt, Dexter Gordon, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and many of the jazz greats play around New York'.

 

Bob won a scholarship to Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and then went to the University of Hartford Hartt School, Connecticut, on a classical clarinet scholarship. Jackie McLean had just started a jazz program at Hartt, and it was McLean who suggested to Bob that he transfer to New York City and 'jump into the jazz community down there'. He took the suggestion and transferred to Manhattan School of Music in 1973.

 

 

Bob Mintzer

 

 

 

 

Here is a video of Bob playing a bass clarinet solo (date unknown).

 

 

 

Since then, the list of musicians that he has worked with is as impressive as it is diverse including Art Blakey, Jaco Pastorius, Randy Brecker, Gil Evans, Kurt Elling, the Buddy Rich Big Band and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band.  Then there’s session work for the chart toppers – Diana Ross, James Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Steve Winwood, Queen and countless others.

 

Bob playing The Chicken with Jaco Pastorius. Randy Brecker is the trumpeter.

 

 

 

 

 

New York Voices

 

 

The New York Voices jazz vocal group was founded in 1987 by Peter Eldridge, Caprice Fox, Sara Krieger, Darmon Meader, and Kim Nazarian. All except Krieger were members of an alumni group from Ithaca College that toured Europe in 1986. They began performing as the New York Voices in 1988 and issued their debut album the following year. Sara Krieger left in 1992 and was replaced by Lauren Kinhan. After Caprice Fox left, the group became a quartet.

 

Now, Bob Mintzer releases Meeting Of Minds, an album with New York Voices, a collaboration that unites two projects from the MCG Jazz stable. MCG - The Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, based in Pittsburgh, has had a jazz programme since 1987. They say: 'Through our live recordings we reach a national and international audience – a market we’d like to grow. Through our educational programs we are able to have students attend the concerts at low or no cost to them, make artists available for master classes and provide opportunities for internships in production and marketing .... The jazz artists come to the Guild to perform with an understanding that we’re a school. Most leave feeling that they got as much or more from their MCG experience than they gave. They frequently mention “hope” and “the spirit of the place.” You will hear what they mean in their recordings. MCG Jazz label recordings are unusually joyful ....'

 

New York Voices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Voices singing Lennon and McCartney's In My Life at the Java Jazz Festival.

 

 

 

 

Mintzer has been a long-time fan of New York Voices – ‘great soloists and superb ensemble playing on some fairly challenging arrangements’. New York Voices (NYV) have previous form with big bands, having performed with the Count Basie Orchestra in 1996, for which they too won a Grammy.  This new album with Bob Mintzer takes a more integrated approach to voice and band, including a series of solos from the quartet, along with improvised solos from the orchestra.  What could be an over-complicated project actually puts the lyrics at centre stage.  As Mintzer says, ‘it was fun to go somewhere else arrangement-wise while acknowledging the greatness and intention of the tunes.’ NYV are known for their close-knit harmonies, very much in the style of Manhattan Transfer.  Their collaborators span a number of influential jazz artists since they formed thirty years ago - Bobby McFerrin, Nancy Wilson, George Benson, Annie Ross. 

 

New York Voices and Manhattan Transfer together singing Birdland in 2011.

 

 

 

 

The new album, Meeting of Minds, has some great tunes that span the very best of the era, reinventing classics by Mercer, Kern, Porter, Carmichael, with the addition of a new track by Mintzer himself that has shades of the West Coast in the production, with a Fagan/Becker feel to Speak Low in particular.

 

Listen to Speak Low.

 

 

 

A highlight of the album is the joyful bossa nova sound of You Go To My Head, featuring trumpeter Scott Wendholt and lead vocals by Darmon Meader, the vocal arranger for all the tracks on the album.  Interwoven with harmonies by Kim Nazarian and Lauren Kinhan, the track is the loosest (and campest) track on the album. I Get Along Without You Very Well puts soloist Peter Eldridge at centre stage, his initial plaintiveness developing into something more celebratory when joined by Nazarian and Kinhan.  As is the way of the whole album, this classic song is reinvigorated and celebrated. 

 

Listen to I Get Along Without You Very Well.

 

 

 

We'll let Bob Mintzer leave us for the time being with this informal video that someone took of him playing an Eastman tenor sax at this year's National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) trade business show in California ........

 

 

 

 

Click here for details and to sample the Meeting Of Minds album

 

Bob Mintzer Meeting Of Minds album

 

 

 

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