Mintzer, Erskine, Brecker for Scotland

Bob MintzerSaxophonist Bob Mintzer, arranger Vince Mendoza and drummer Peter Erskine join the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra directed by Tommy Smith in a Weather Report salute in Scotland in February. The band plays Dundee Caird Hall, tel 01382 434940 (23), Edinburgh Queen’s Hall, 0131 668 2019 (24), Glasgow Royal Conservatoire, 0141 332 5057 (25) and Stirling MacRobert Centre, 01786 466666 (26) with a programme including Wayne Shorter's Elegant People arranged by Mintzer, Night Passage arranged by Mendoza, Teen Town arranged by Geoff Keezer and Birdland arranged by Bill Dobbins. More at snjo.co.uk.

In May, the SNJO appears with trumpeter Randy Brecker (cover feature in Jazz Journal March) in concerts featuring the compositions of Randy's brother Michael at Greyfriars Kirk, Lanark (24), Queen's Hall, Edinburgh (25), Royal Conservatoire, Glasgow (26), Adam Smith, Kirkcaldy (27) and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow (workshop, 28).

The Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra has a new album, Emergence, released 6 February on Spartacus Records.

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Mintzer's Canyon Cove album featuring Erskine was reviewed in JJ July 2011:

BOB MINTZER
CANYON COVE

Somewhere Up There; Bebop Special; Papa Lips; Bugaloo To You; Thaddeus; When I Fall In Love; Improv. #3; Road Well Travelled; Truth; Mr. Fonebone; Improv #2; Canyon Cove; Improv #1 (68.35)
Mintzer (ts, bcl, f); Larry Goldings (org); Peter Erskine (d). Plus Judd Miller (EWI on Improvs #1-3). California, 2010.
Pony Canyon/Cheetah
 
After a varied, four-decade career (Thad Jones, Stone Alliance, Yellowjackets, big-band arranging) it must be getting hard for Bob Mintzer to turn new stones. It's surprising then to read that this is his first organ record.

Mintzer's known best as a hard-bop tenorist but he's also fluent on bass clarinet (eg, on the pell-mell Bebop Special) and doubles flute and reed (eg, bcl+f on Bebop and ts+f on Papa Lips). On something as suave as Thaddeus the flute-sax combination can recall Hush Puppies and 80s sitcoms such as Terry And June but the execution and solos are exquisite.

Thaddeus is a tribute to the writing of Thad Jones and is one of nine original Mintzer compositions here. The O-word shouldn't frighten mainstreamers: Mintzer draws on the best traditional chord sequences and rhythms in the book.  

This doesn't, however, exclude individuality. Some will spot hard-bop clichés in Mintzer's playing but they are expertly recombined in fresh ways. Erskine provides a stream of imaginative percussive colour. His cymbal shuffle beat adds demotic warmth to swingers such as Mr. Fonebone, and on Papa Lips he develops Latin percussion with the skill of a master orchestrator. Goldings is an inventive last-minute replacement for a stranded Joey DeFrancesco.

The title track – dedicated to Emerson, Lake & Palmer - is named after Mintzer's Californian address, formerly home to Arnold Schoenberg. Any clairvoyant have Arnie's reaction to the musical liberties being taken there today? This highly recommended, numberless CD is perhaps more easily elicited from bobmintzer.com.
- Mark Gilbert

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