CD of the Month: THE BOB MINTZER BIG BAND – FOR THE MOMENT - Manchester Craftsmen's Guild MCGJ 1124
Saxophonist Bob Mintzer has been active for several decades as instrumentalist, composer and arranger. Having been a member of the saxophone section of bands led by Buddy Rich, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis, Tito Puente and Gil Evans, Mintzer is also a member of the group Yellowjackets and leader of his own smaller ensembles and has played with numerous Brazilian artists over the years. He also leads his own Grammy-winning big band. “For The Moment” is Mintzer's fourth big band recording for Manchester Craftsmen's Guild and was recorded live at the Pittsburgh, PA music hall in September of 2011.
“For The Moment” strikes a solid vibe from the first notes and maintains an alluring attraction for the listener throughout this delightful session by virtue of stellar musicianship, compositional and arranging skills and the appealing flow of the album. The performance is comprised of selections evoking the spirit of Brazilian music that conveys a sense of rhythmic exhilaration with vibrant arranging and ensemble playing as well as soloing from members of the band.
Brazilian guitarist and vocalist Chico Pinheiro appears on three tracks – his own “Um Filme” with softly swinging Portuguese lyrics and acoustic guitar solo (reminiscent of Laurindo Almeida or Charlie Byrd) punctuated by the bands' tight chart that surrounds this breezy performance. A marvelous flute and baritone sax fanfare opens the soaring samba “Irrequieto” that features Pinheiro on electric guitar and Scott Wendholt playing trumpet. Pinheiro is back vocally and on acoustic guitar again for Jobim's “Corcovado” to which the band offers softly stated flourishes on music that is as naturally enjoyable as ocean waves are irresistible.
Other band members are featured including pianist Russell Ferrante on the laid back “For All We Know”; Michael Davis at the trombone and Mintzer playing tenor on the festive “Berimbau”; the title track with lovely voicings from the flute section and featuring Frank Basile's baritone sax; and tenorist Bob Malach gets a turn on the percolating “Ouro Preto”. It's all good and at its center is Mintzer's writing - a solid statement of in-the-groove, gloriously integrated musical ingenuity that promises many invigorating opportunities for the listener.