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Bob Mintzer has the knack. Whether he developed it during his brief association with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, his two years with the Buddy Rich Big Band, or his time with Jaco Pastorius’ Word of Mouth Big Band is unclear. What is certain, however, is that the great tenor saxophonist has continued to perfect his instincts for orchestration and counterpoint over the years.
With Soundscapes, the maestro now returns as leader of the WDR Big Band with ten newly arranged pieces. “At WDR, there is, after all, a tradition that the chief conductor implements a project of his own writing at some point during his tenure,” he explains. “So I pulled together some of the things I’ve written for the band over the last five years, as well as a number of brand new numbers, for this recording.”
Soundscapes, an amalgam of moods, grooves and complex textures, not only showcases Mintzer’s work for this widely acclaimed ensemble, but he does double duty. After all, he is also featured as the main soloist on tenor saxophone and the Electronic Wind Instrument (EWI), while spotlighting other outstanding soloists - such as long-time WDR members Paul Heller on tenor saxophone, Karolina Strassmayer and Johan Horlen on alto saxophone, Ruud Breuls and Andy Haderer on trumpet, and Andy Hunter on trombone. Recorded in December 2019, the album is certainly among the very best of Mintzer’s long career.
Recorded in December 2019