All L.A. Band
While perhaps best known for his tenure with the Yellowjackets, saxophonist-composer-arranger Bob Mintzer has been writing and leading big bands for some 40 years. His new album "All L.A. Band" on Fuzzy Records revisits ten of his compositions that he had written over the years. Drummer Peter Erskine produced this recording as well as anchored the rhythm section for this studio big band. Few of the band members are familiar to this listener and with few exceptions, the soloists are not identified.
There is a mix in material and grooves with several numbers having a definite Afro-Cuban slant, others a Basie-ite flavor and others a funk/R&B flavor. The mood is set with the tropical flavor of the lively opener "El Caborojeno," followed by a Count Basie Band styled "Havin' Some Fun," and then "Home Basie" with a mix of R&B and Basie swing with terrific blues-rooted tenor sax playing (and while I might suspect Mintzer of being the player here he refers to the soloist in the third person in the liner notes). "Ellis Island" is another Afro-Cuban laced number with striking interplay between brass and reeds and a strong baritone sax solo.
"New Rochelle" was originally composed for The Yellowjackets and later recorded by Mintzer's big band and again is a lively swinging number set against a back beat. Mintzer describes "Runferyerlife" as "a rhythm changes tune taken at a pretty good clip," and his notes imply he takes the tenor solo with his use of shorter percussive phrases to blend with the rhythm section. There is nice scoring of the horns also backing a suitably blustery trombone solo. After the relaxed fun of "Latin Dance" with its funky bass line, Mintzer revisits the aptly titled, "Slo Funk," which was originally written for Buddy Rich's Big Band years ago.
The closing "Tribute" is another Basie styled number dedicated to "Thad Lewis and all of the great musicians who came out of the Basie band." Nice piano from Russ Ferrante to set the tune and the rhythm of Edwin Livingston on bass and Peter Erskine is first-rate here as on this entire recording. There is plenty of wonderful playing on this recording enhanced by the arrangements and the lively compositions. Not only does this make for fine listening, but all the music was originally recorded for the MINTZER Big Band Essentials play-along app, for all instruments which is available at the App Store.
I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is a selection for you to sample this recording.