Bob Mintzer (featuring Kurt Elling): Minuano
Bob Mintzer Big Band
Swing Out (MCG Jazz 1030)
Peter Yellin (alto sax), Lawrence Feldman (alto sax), Bob Malach (tenor sax), Roger Rosenberg (baritone sax), Frank Greene (trumpet), Jim Rotondi (trumpet), Michael Davis (trombone), Larry Farrell (trombone), David Taylor (bass trombone).
Composed by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, with words by Kurt Elling.
Recorded: Pittsburgh, February 26-27, 2007
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
Pat Metheny's "Minuano" is becoming something of a contemporary standard. Vocalist Kurt Elling, featured as a guest artist on this track, has recorded a version of this song with his own band, and another stellar big band chart of "Minuano" has been recorded by the under-appreciated Bob Curnow. But this gripping performance withstands comparison with these other cover versions. Elling, in particular, pulls out all the stops. When I first heard him leap an octave for the melody repeat, I wondered if he had the range to handle these scary heights. But I can reassure you that even when the melody gets "as high as Kathmandu" (to quote the lyrics), Elling holds on with the tenacity of a sherpa. This is exciting stuff, but Mintzer follows with his own memorable contribution. The tenorist surges out of the starting gate, and from the very first phrase you know this will be a very hot solo. Pianist Phil Markowitz is given the unenviable task of going third in this lineup, but he eventually settles into a clever harmonic and rhythmic study. Make no mistake, this is one of best big band performances of the year.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia