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Music Review: Bob Mintzer – Canyon Cove

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The last time I heard organ music that really worked in popular music was on albums by Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Steppenwolf, and on some surf music. Now, here it is again in traditional jazz. Bob Mintzer, veteran saxophonist (34-year career) with dozens of albums to his credit, over two hundred arrangements penned, and a Grammy, has this to say:

It’s no surprise that the Hamond B3 is featured throughout Canyon Cove, his latest CD and is showcased on several pieces. Two of my favorites were “Papa Lips” and “Thaddeus,” with Larry Goldings at keyboard. Goldings turns in several performances on Canyon Cove that would make Ray Charles and Jerry Lee Lewis stop and take notice. Drummer Peter Erskine rounds out the trio and always seems to chime in with just the right licks, whether with brushes on snare and hi-hat, or traditional jazz percussion complements. Judd Miller sits in with the trio for “Improv #3” on an electronic wind instrument.

Mintzer, a household name in the jazz world, wrote the liner notes and discussed the history of the Hammond B3 and its use in jazz by the likes of Wild Bill Davis, Groove Holmes, and Jimmy Smith. Historically, Count Basie and Fats Waller had used organs in the 1920s and 1930s before the B3 came along. Mintzer says, “The sound of the Hammond B3 was and is so rich in overtone, and has the ability to sound like a much larger ensemble while maintaining the intimacy of a small band.” It was that richness of sound that inspired the leader of a Grammy-winning big band to do a recording with a trio — an organ trio.

Mintzer’s Grammy came in 2001 with his album Homage To Count Basie, released on the DMP label. He has been a member of the Grammy award-winning Yellowjackets for 18 years and plays on a dozen CDs with them. He’s a busy man with his workshops, teaching commitments (USC), and appearances.

He plays tenor sax on most of the tracks on Canyon Cove and shines with the bass clarinet on track 13, “Improv #1.” On the pop cover, “When I Fall in Love,” Mintzer’s tenor sax sings! He also wrote all the songs for this project, except the just-mentioned pop cover and the three improvisational pieces.

Fans of Bob Mintzer will want to add this August 17, 2010, release to their collections and can do so in the United States only via his website. It will be available later on Amazon as a Japanese import. Music fans not familiar with Mintzer will find Canyon Cove to be a great introduction.

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  • http://deathknellforseriouscriticism.blogspot.com/ Kate

    Love the new column! Look forward to more!