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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Bop Boy

Explore EXP 0019



1. Blue Bossa
2. Bop Boy
3. Embraceable You
4. Frncsisca
5. Invitation
6. Re-Re
7. Runferyerlife
8. Speak Low
9. St James Infirmary
10. Why Did I Choose You?
Bob Mintzer - Tenor sax, bass clarinet
Steve Kuhn - Piano
Eddie Gomez - Bass
Steve Gadd - Drums

Having been rather critical of Bob Mintzer's Papa Lips album on this website last year, I am happy to report that this CD presents fewer doubts. Recorded in 2002 and previously available only in Japan, the album presents Bob Mintzer in a quartet setting which allows him much more elbow room - and he sounds more relaxed. The opening Blue Bossa is played without frills, and Eddie Gomez uses the melody in his well-constructed bass solo. The album title is justified by the beboppish feel of the title-track: a Mintzer composition which twists and turns in unusual directions. All four musicians seem to relish improvising at its fast tempo, with Eddie Gomez humming along to his double bass and Steve Gadd thrusting the music along with exhilarating drums.

The next two tracks are easygoing tunes which exhibit Bob Mintzer's warm burr on tenor sax. His solos tell interesting stories in a way that some other tenorists don't achieve. I thought Invitation was written by Bronislaw Kaper but it is credited here to "Brown - Vaughn - Vaughn". Nevertheless it makes a nice easy swinger for affable solos from Mintzer and Kuhn. Steve Kuhn's piano playing is impeccable throughout: clear and cohesive, with occasional touches of humour.

Runferyerlife brings us back to bebop territory - or post-bop, with a complex melody built upon a simple chord sequence (I Got Rhythm?). Steve Gadd adds some typically taut drum breaks, as he also does on Speak Low. For St James Infirmary Bob Mintzer switches to bass clarinet - a suitably dark-toned instrument for this mournful song. The CD ends with Why Did I Choose You?, a neglected song which was beautifully recorded by Barbra Streisand and here receives a similarly poignant performance. Bob Mintzer uses the bass clarinet more airily here, and Eddie Gomez's resonant bass underpins the whole tune (indeed, the whole album) perfectly.

If you buy this album, it probably won't change your life - but it will give you more than an hour of pleasure.

Tony Augarde

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