For a long time, I had what I now realize was a built-in prejudice against "new" swing music. How, I asked myself, could modern groups be anything but pale imitations of the good old stuff? There was just no way that anyone could compare with Miller, Basie, Goodman... well, you get the idea.
Of course, I was being hard-headed (as I often am, just ask my wife) and eventually I realized that some of the newer guys are not only just as talented as the legends, but can also take us in new directions while at the same time respecting the old stuff. The Bob Minzter Big Band's new album, Old School - New Lessons, proves that once again, as the title itself suggests. This is good stuff and fans of swing music old or new will be tickled pink, or whatever color you prefer for your tickling.
Minzter is a solid and respected pro, not only as a leader of his own groups but also with many years of experience as a sideman for a lot of differently styled bands, all the way from Buddy Rich to Tito Puente. He's probably best known for his own Big Band and for his long-time participation with the smaller, jazz-rock group called the Yellowjackets.
In addition to his talents on sax, clarinet and flute, he also has solid credentials as a composer and arranger, and his prolific writing has formed the repertoire for big bands all over the world. His many skills have earned him multiple Grammy nominations and a 2001 win in the category Best Large Ensemble.
Although he's perfectly happy with performing old style swing music, he's also explored new avenues for the band, including latin and funk — but always with an eye to his jazz roots.