Saturday, May 30, 2015
Large Ensembles 2015 (Part 1)
25 years after he organized the ensemble comes its first album. "Billy Mintz: The 2 Bass Band....Live" (Thirteenth Note Records). The 9 other members includes bassists Cameron Brown and Masa Yamaguchi plus the brass section of Ron Horton (trumpet), Dave Scott (trumpet), Brian Drye (trombone) and Samuel Blaser (trombone) with the reeds of John O'Gallagher (alto and soprano saxophones), Kenny Berger (baritone and alto saxes), and Adam Kolker (tenor and soprano saxes, clarinet). Recorded live in January 2014 in the cozy confines of Ibeam Brooklyn, the recording features all Mintz originals that range from the swinging "Flight" (with an understated solo from Horton and a more playful solo from Berger on baritone following the clarinet reading of the theme) to the Ellingtonian drive of "Ghost Sanctuary" (the leader's drum work is exemplary as is the arrangement) to the bluesy Afro-jazz of "Darkland" (and the conversational work of trombonists Drye and Blaser). The 2 bassists get their own spotlight on the appropriately-titled "Bass Thing", both soloing and working together. O'Gallagher's expressive alto sax is out front on "The Dream" (a ballad with fine sectional writing) and reaches dizzying heights on the high-powered "Shmear."
You have to listen closely to hear the 2 bassists in The Billy Mintz 2 Bass Band but, when you do, one can tell that they truly complement each other (sometimes serving as the chordal instruments in this piano-less dectet.) What stands out most is the adventurous writing, the impressive solos, and lack of cliches in the music. This is an ensemble one needs to hear live but, in the meantime, Mr. Mintz et al have made an excellent entrance. Let's hope we won't have to wait 25 years for the next recording.
For more information, go to www.billymintz.com/billy_two.html.