Eddie’s In the House
Bob Mintzer is a busy man. He has a new disc out with his LA band on Fuzzy Music, which I’ll be reviewing soon, and here he is on Mack Avenue with his
Yellowjackets. Young Australian bassist Dane Alderson is the newcomer to the quartet.
This ten-song recital is full of good things. Golden State is a sinuously lyrical swinger, a vehicle for Mintzer’s ever-articulate, rhythmically
supple leadership. His quicksilver playing over a walking bass and piano line inaugurates Guarded Optimism with an ease of utterance that proves
beguiling. Russell Ferrante takes a thoughtful, sensitive piano introduction on Anticipation that is almost Jarrett-like, whilst Mintzer’s
understated tenor lights and shades the pianist’s opus. Trane Changing is a kind of refraction of Coltrane’s Giant Steps, opening wth a
rather romantically infused piano introduction.
There’s a funky Eddie’s in the House, its laid back groove enhanced by the tenor man’s precision and engaging vibrancy and by the rolling piano
lines. Grooving high, Fran’s Scene generates some blues-rich aura in a more languid kind of way, whereas Child’s Play is an example of
lyric Bop, with an especially fine Mintzer solo. Variety of theme and texture, and changes of mood, are inherent in a selection such as this and Mintzer is
too canny not to avail himself of the opportunities for contrast. Sample the way Shenandoah is played, a slow ballad beautifully intoned by
Mintzer over supple piano underpinning. The leader doesn’t unleash his soprano sax or bass clarinet very often – he does also chip in with flute – but he
does play the soprano on the last track, Coherence, where Ferrante’s pianism proves quirky and ear-catching.
Here’s another fine example of this first-rate band in action.