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Bob Mintzer Big Band: Old School, New Lessons

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Old School, New Lessons presents live performances by saxophonist Bob Mintzer’s large ensemble of top-flight New York musicians augmented by his bandmates the Yellowjackets on two tracks (“Mofongo” and “Mosaic”) and by vocalist Kurt Elling on two others (“My One and Only Love” and Coltrane’s “Resolution”). Except for the latter, the highly melodic compositions are all Mintzer’s, several having been recorded earlier by the Yellowjackets alone.

The program also includes such tracks as “Not Quite Yet,” a sprightly tune cleverly constructed over a recurring two-note bass figure; “Runferyerlife,” a blazing line over modified “Rhythm” changes; “March Majestic,” a jaunty melody with intriguing melodic accent shifts that’s anchored by a New Orleans street cadence; and the loping, funk-steeped “Go Go.” On “Mofongo,” with the big band punctuating the Yellowjackets’ bristling performance, Mintzer transfers his virtuosity to the EWI.

Excellent improvised solos complement Mintzer’s writing. In addition to the leader and Yellowjackets pianist Russell Ferrante, the players with the most solo space are tenorist Bob Malach, trumpeter Terell Stafford and pianist Phil Markowitz.