WBGO Radar

Bob Mintzer Big Band: "Get Up!"

bob mintzer get up

Saxophonist Bob Mintzer is one of those musicians who’s comfortable in any setting.

He’s led small groups, his own big bands, developed his early writing chops in the big bands of Buddy Rich, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis and WDR big bands, writing over 200 pieces along the way.

Mintzer is also a 20-year member of The Yellowjackets, which allows him to explore even further.

With Get Up! Bob’s own big band is captured live at Manchester Craftmen’s Guild outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

A swingin’ affair right from the get, “Get Up!” has the spirit of a night of James Brown on tour, and here a great showpiece for trombonist Andy Hunter and baritone saxophonist Roger Rosenberg.

 Before the night is over, the Mintzer Big Band gets everybody up with roof raising rendiktions of The Isley’s “It’s Your Thing”, the Sam & Dave hit, “I Thank You” and “Sing a Simple Song”, a re-call from Sly & The Family Stone.

Bob’s arrangement of Wayne Shorter’s “Elegant People” from his Weather Report days turns this Shorter story into a funky shuffler, showing off the tenor savvy of Bob Malach.

Aside from the syncopated shine of his charts, Mintzer’s tenor gets a workout on his “Truth Spoken Here”, a nice chart for trumpeter Scott Wendholt alongside.

“Civil War” is Bob’s tune found on the Yellowjackets latest, “A Rise in The Road”. It gets the big four-lane treatment here. Once again, Mintzer’s tenor rings out along with his Yellowjacket bandmate, Russell Ferante on piano.

“Land of Oak” is a quick paced original, sure to remind some of Tower of Power’s “What is Hip”. The section playing gets right to it, setting up the leader’s tenor and some great trumpet lines from John Daversa.

The closer, “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah”, from the leader, builds from the blues in 4/4 with pianist Ferrante, trombonist Michael Davis and Bob Sheppard’s alto riding atop the call and response section work.

Bob Mintzer knows his stuff. Knows what he wants and how to get it. He makes it loose and fun getting there. This latest effort displays all of these elements alongsige Bob Mintzer’s most prized intention – the non-stop ticket to swing each audience member receives upon entering his incredible musical world.

“Get Up!” comes out June 23 from MCG Jazz.

  - Gary Walker, WBGO music director

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