By Herb Boyd | Published October 2021
The eminent composer/arranger and tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer and the WDR Big Band Cologne on the aptly named Soundscapes evoke a variety of images from the Santa Ana winds to the Palladium Ballroom in Manhattan with tracks sizzling with intensity. On the one hand, there is the almost tropical flavor to “Canyon Winds,” where the orchestra emits a coastal breeze that gathers heat and energy before “Montuno” swirls you into memories of Tito Puente.
Given Mintzer’s musical odyssey and a versatility that runs the gamut, the music here should not come as a surprise, but as a continuation of his quest to produce his soundscape.
Most of the tracks, except for “New Look,” are turbo-charged and the tempos relentless.
The band has a proliferation of fine soloists, and especially rewarding is alto saxophonist Karolina Strassmayer, who knows the intricacies of salsa and a few other Latin genres. And when she and trumpeter Ruud Breuls lock horns, so to speak, on the closing tune, they epitomize the band’s coherency, those singular moments that are representative of the whole. Mintzer is a wise and creative leader and Soundscapes is just another example of his prodigious talent and ingenuity.
Soundscapes: A Reprieve; The Conversation; Stay Up; Montuno; Whack; Canyon Winds; Herky Jerky; New Look; One Music; VM. (64:90)
Personnel: Bob Mintzer, tenor saxophone, electronic wind instrument; Billy Test, piano; Andy Haderer, Wim Both, Rob Bruynen, Ruud Breuls, trumpets; Olivier Peters, Karolina Strassmayer, Paul Heller, Johan Horlen, saxophones; Ludwig Nuss, Raphael Klemm, Mattis Cederberg, Andy Hunter, Jens Neufang, trombones; Paul Shigihara, guitar; Stefan Rey, electric and acoustic bass; Hans Dekker, drums; Marcio Doctor, percussion.
Ordering Info: mcgjazz.org