April 2007

Bob Mintzer Quartet - In the Moment
Art of Life AL 1024-2
Format: CD
Released: 2007

by Katherine Silkaitis

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality **1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***

The Bob Mintzer Quartet isn’t just a group pulled together for this album. Mintzer’s three additional musicians have been playing with him for years in Mintzer’s big band. As a result, the cohesive sound and intuitive playing found on the album should come as no surprise. Comprising nine tracks (six by Mintzer, one by pianist Phil Markowitz and two by other composers), the album is an example of traditional quartet jazz.

Mintzer takes center stage for most of the album. A talented reed player, he has a lively, flowing style well suited to his tunes. Drummer John Riley’s quietly swishing cymbal taps unobtrusively keep time as Markowitz lightly accompanies Mintzer’s every note, accenting the pauses and filling out the chords. What is noticeably absent, however, is Jay Anderson’s bass. It takes a lot of intent listening to even make out the bass line when Mintzer isn’t playing, and it is nearly impossible (or just requires too much effort) when Mintzer is taking the spotlight. And while Anderson is clearly talented, his playing is at a consistently low volume. Whether a fault of his or of the recording, it’s a little distracting.

While the album may not be too tarnished by the lack of bass, it’s always unfortunate to listen to what would otherwise be a solid album marred by circumstances not related to musicianship.