Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Voices of Love, Loss, Happiness, Desire, and More (Pt 1)
Tonight I can write the saddest lines" to the singer's quiet take of "Don't Worry 'Bout Me" (from the pens of Rube Bloom and Fred Koehler), the songs deal with issues of the heart. He's got quite a sparkling band, one that includes Darrell Grant (piano), Clark Sommers (bass), and Brian Blade (drums) as well as the smart reeds of Steve Wilson (alto saxophone) and Geof Bradfield (tenor saxophone) and the powerfully rich trumpet of Marquis Hill. One also hears the electric guitar of Gregory Uhlmann plus contributions from the Avalon String Quartet (Blaise Magniere and Marie Wang on violin, Anthony Devrove on viola, and Cheng-Hou Lee on cello).
Still, it's hard to stay away from the heartbreak. Baker's sweet take of Bonnie Raitt's "Not 'Cause I Wanted To" (which opens with a fine bass solo) is emotionally rich without being saccharine. "People of Paper", based on the 2005 debut novel of Mexican-born author Salvador Plascencia, is a story of love unrequited and lost. The horns float above the vocals until Hill steps out with a most reserved yet heartfelt solo - don't miss the short but stunning soprano sax phrase as the piece fades away. .
Several of the reviews have said that the songs on "Phrases" go on too long and no one song stands out. I beg to differ; to my ears, each piece is part of a longer story, a tale in which love and loss are at the center. Pay attention to the musicians Jeff Baker surrounds himself with, how they serve the music, how the arrangements have a strong sense of drama, and how Sommers and Blade offer such great support. And, I can't through "A Hundred Less One" without tearing up knowing it speaks for the many people I know who have been married for decades. Some music blazes trails, some music makes you dance, and some music takes so far inside yourself you feel as if your life is exposed to the world. "That's "Phrases" in a sentence!
For more information, go to jeffbakerjazz.com.
For more information, go to newyorkvoices.com or to www.bobmintzer.com.
Here are the groups in action:
Personnel of Bob Mintzer Big Band:
Bob Mintzer – Tenor Saxophone, Flute
Bob Sheppard – Alto Saxophone, Flute
Lawrence Feldman – Alto Saxophone, Flute
Bob Malach – Tenor Saxophone
Roger Rosenberg – Baritone Saxophone, Clarinet
Bob – Millikan – Trumpet
Frank Greene – Trumpet
Scott Wendholt – Trumpet
James Moore – Trumpet
Keith O’Quinn – Trombone
Jeff Bush – Trombone
Jay Ashby – Trombone, Percussion
David Taylor – Bass Trombone
Phil Markowitz – Piano
Marty Ashby – Guitar
Jay Anderson – Bass
John Riley – Drums