Bob Curnow's L.A. Big Band: Minuano (Six Eight)

Bob Curnow's arrangements of Pat Metheny's music for big band are a delight to hear, and the 1994 recording The Music of Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays by Curnow's L.A. Big Band is one of the neglected gems of the rapidly growing 'tribute jazz' category. By drawing on this sometimes idiosyncratic repertoire, Curnow cuts through the clichés of the big band vocabulary, and delivers a series of fresh and invigorating performances. This version of "Minuano" works like a charm, and Curnow even finds a way of adapting the heavily synthesized minimalist interlude in the original Metheny recording that other cover artists (see here and here) haven't dared to tackle. I wish we heard more often from Mr. Curnow, but with this CD he gave us a mini-masterpiece.

August 29, 2008 · 0 comments

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Bob Mintzer (featuring Kurt Elling): Minuano

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.

August 29, 2008 · 0 comments

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Pat Metheny: Minuano (Six Eight)

Like many songs from Metheny's 'Brazilian period,' "Minuano (Six Eight)" displays his penchant for making use of various influences within a single, multifaceted structure. A swirling introduction features wordless vocals that foreshadow the main theme brought forth in the second section. Pat then takes an extended guitar solo that seems like it's ready to burst as it leads into a restatement of the head. Just as you're ready for another repeat of that theme, an abrupt left turn is taken and a small army of percussion takes over, playing some inspiring marimba by way of Steve Reich. This makes the final return to the main melody all the more surprising. Really great stuff.

January 09, 2008 · 0 comments

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Kurt Elling: Minuano

No vocalist is better skilled than Elling at shaping a song into a satisfying dramatic performance. Pat Metheny's lilting composition is a perfect vehicle for Elling's interpretive skills. He opens with an invocation that caresses the melody for almost three minutes before launching into an exultant 6/8 melody. We think we're reaching the climax of the song, when Elling leaps an octave and pushes the piece into overdrive. Eight minutes of sheer aural pleasure. High marks also to pianist Hobgood (whose acute musical direction is always evident on Elling's recordings) and saxophonist Wheeler.

October 30, 2007 · 2 comments

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