Picks and Pans Review: Camouflage
updated 03/16/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 03/16/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST
There are legions of jazz players who are resolutely closed-minded about musical styles that don't fall within their range of interest. Bob Mintzer is not among them. This New York City-based saxophonist-composer has played, written and/or recorded with just about everyone—the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, Tito Puente, the New York Philharmonic and such pop-rock acts as Queen. He has even appeared with Deodato, the leader of the quirky band that landed a Top-5 hit in 1973 with a disco version of the theme song from 2001. The nine cuts Mintzer penned, arranged and co-produced for this release, which includes 17 of New York's finest session players, show his genuine regard for new developments in all kinds of music. Techno Pop, the opening track, is a terrific example of Mintzer's penchant for orchestrations that are intricate enough to satisfy jazz purists, yet at the same time are accessible for diehard foot stompers. Its irrepressible, conga-driven rhythm section provides a pulsating bottom for a gorgeous blend of horns that features a soaring, improvised trumpet flight by Randy Brecker. The emphatically exuberant Mr. Fone Bone opens with an arrangement that sounds as if it were written for a symphony orchestra, then segues into a series of musical passages that romp through rumba, hard-bop and free-jazz sections before returning to the opening theme. Although Mintzer's earthy-toned playing can be heard throughout Camouflage, his most passionate and lyrical solos are on the ballads Truth and A Long Time Ago, on which he duets with a Linda Ronstadt collaborator, pianist Don Grolnick. This release is available on CD and cassette, distributed by Digital Music Products, Rockefeller Center Station, Box 2317, New York, N.Y. 10185.