Bob Mintzer: In the Moment

I find it easy to respect and even admire Bob Mintzer’s skills as a saxophonist and bass clarinetist, yet difficult to embrace his music. He’s a technically gifted musician, certainly, and a fine craftsman, yet he’s never evidenced much of a personality. This album is a case in point. Joining Mintzer are pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer John Riley. They’ve played together a great deal, perfecting a type of ultra-competent, take-no-chances brand of postbop. The repertoire consists mainly of Mintzer’s typically well-crafted if forgettable originals, with a funky Eddie Harris tune (“Listen Here”), a standard (Styne and Cahn’s “Time After Time”) and a Markowitz ballad (“Forgiveness”) thrown in. The band’s treatments are attractive without ever really grabbing the listener. The players display a mastery of post-bop, non-free idioms and an utter disinclination to challenge convention. Mintzer is one of those saxophonists not particularly indebted to any one specific forebear, but who’s synthesized his many influences into a seamless whole. That sort of thing can be good, if the player can add something distinctively his own into the mix. Mintzer doesn’t, nor does this band.