Bob Mintzer Big Band
(Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild)
The worst of the punchy-brass big band jazz tradition meets the worst of jazz-rock fusion. Nobody would question the professionalism of this disc. But if you want to hear how much vigor and vitality actually remain, by comparison in the 1970s and even ’80s music of Chicago, listen to the big band of the tenor saxophonist for Yellow Jackets as it does its version of James Brown’s “It’s Your Thing.”
Nobody ever said Mintzer couldn’t play his horn, but all the professional musicianship in the world couldn’t make this live concert festival of tedium and cliches into music that anyone was likely to want to hear again, much less all the way through the first time.
In other words, all the acceptable solos in the world can’t magically transform this disc into something anyone would want to live with even if Mintzer’s bassist is David Letterman’s man Will Lee.
Mintzer says he was inspired to make this recording by James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, The Isley Brothers, Otis Redding, the Four Tops, Igor Stravinsky, B.B. King, Gil Evans, the Ohio Players, Tower of Power, Weather Report and the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics. The only ones I can easily imagine returning Mintzer’s kind words would be members of the New York and L.A. philharmonics and only then because they were being nice.
– Jeff Simon