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Bob Mintzer: Live at MCG

Difficult to say whether Bob Mintzer’s latest album, Live at MCG (MCG Jazz), with special guest Kurt Elling and a 16-piece band, is more about the saxophonist or the vocalist. But then, who cares? It’s a dynamic blending either way. All arrangements are by Mintzer, from the exciting “El Caborojeno” to the retro salute “One O’Clock Jump,” with its un-Basie-like, contrapuntal postscript. His hard-swinging charts lead to hard-edged solos from pianist Phil Markowitz, trumpeter Scott Wendholt and the leader on tenor. Elling makes a strong impression on his three numbers: on Herbie Hancock’s “Eye of the Hurricane” his falsetto scat matches the intensity of an Illinois Jacquet solo; for “All Is Quiet” Elling added introspective lyrics to Mintzer’s melody; and “My Foolish Heart,” which is almost weakened by overarticulation.

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