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Bob Mintzer Big Band: Get Up!

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Like so many baby-boomer jazzmen, Bob Mintzer, during his most impressionable years, took in not only jazz but the radio hits of the day-including the soul, R&B and funk that inspired Get Up! Three of the nine tracks here, sequenced consecutively, are ’60s cornerstones: the Isley Brothers’ “It’s Your Thing,” Sam and Dave’s “I Thank You” and Sly and the Family Stone’s “Sing a Simple Song.” The only other non-original, “Elegant People,” is a Wayne Shorter number dating from the mid-’70s. That they meld so seamlessly with Mintzer’s compositions is a testament to the tenor saxophonist, flutist and bandleader’s ability to impart his focused vision to his sizable team.

Mintzer’s title track, leading off the program, sets the tone: This is-in the spirit of the original big bands-music to dance to, not art to ponder. Groove is the thing, and the rhythm section of bassist Will Lee and drummer William Kennedy keeps it airtight and super-funky. The horn parts are sharp and punchy, and the solos, by trombonist Andy Hunter and baritone saxophonist Roger Rosenberg, are lean and direct. The other Mintzer originals-particularly “Truth Spoken Here” and the closing “Yeah Yeah Yeah”-are populated with the kind of horn-powered grease that put bands like Tower of Power and the Average White Band on the map.

As for those soul covers, Mintzer and company, by virtue of their 13-strong heft, bring dollops of brawn to the melodies (held together smoothly by pianist Russell Ferrante and guitarist Ray Obiedo) that the originators probably never considered. Not surprisingly though, it’s the Shorter tune (with a torrid tenor solo by Bob Malach) that best conjoins the individual prowess of the players with the wall of funk that permeates the entire recording.

Originally Published