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  • Jonathan Widran


One of the sturdiest, most stylistically adventurous ensembles in contemporary jazz, the Bob Mintzer Big Band began its more than three decades of recording in 1985 – just two years before the formation of original lineup of another soon to be institution, vocal greats New York Voices.

The swinging, sizzling energy, and the glorious frolicsome spirit of their first joint venture, Meetings of Minds, will make any jazz fan – whether a vocal or instrumental purist, or enthusiast of both forms of emotional expression – wonder why a brilliant summit like this never happened before. Especially since both units have been core parts of the legacy of MCG Jazz for years.

Produced by Marty Ashby, the sixth, and truly one of the most inspired of all MCG helmed Mintzer projects, find the groups collectively infusing their unique sensibilities to nine mostly well known 1940’s tunes (“The Way You Look Tonight,” “You Go To My Head,” “Old Devil Moon,”) and a wild, wacky Mintzer original called “Weird Blues,” featuring a straightforward Mintzer solo and an offbeat one on bari by Roger Rosenberg.

While the simmering, then booming brassy swing and lush, breezy vocal harmonies lay the foundation, it’s the solos, both instrumental (saxophonist Bob Sheppard, pianist Phil Markowitz, trumpeter Scott Wendholt) and vocal (Peter Eldridge, Lauren Kinhan), that create the deepest emotional impact. Hopefully, this Meeting of Minds will be the first of many for these jazz stalwarts.

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