USC jazz faculty member Bob Mintzer has a long jazz bio. His name is well known in many jazz circles from his work with The Yellowjackets, which released their first album in 1991 and now has a total of 17 releases to date. He is also well known as a writer, arranger, and band leader for his own Bob Mintzer Big Band. This explains why all eyes were fixed on Mr. Mintzer when he took his solos before the students of the Los Angeles Youth Jazz Ensemble.
The ensemble kicked off the day by performing a Mintzer composition titled “New Rochelle” which brought the bright outdoor sunshine right into the room. The tune is very crisp and light with what Mintzer described as a “shuffle-funk groove”, and was a very nice selection to start the day. Mintzer noted how there seemed to be some incorrect chord changes being played on the piece, and coached the students in the right direction to bring the tune intact.
Mintzer also spoke of dynamics and the importance of holding a note to create shape and style to a note with crescendo.
After these slight adjustments, the ensemble sailed right into another Mintzer composition title “Christopher Columbus”. In this tune, Mintzer provided insights on the importance of listening to other players around you and took the time to speak about practice and transcribing music, while he demonstrated with a Sonny Stitt solo.
All in all, Mintzer summed up what he was hearing from the band as “nice…good energy…really nice solos…”. And I think that all in attendance would agree.
The Los Angeles Youth Jazz Ensemble (LAYJE) is one of the many USC Thornton Outreach programs offered in the local community. In LAYJE, Los Angeles area high school students have the opportunity to further their experience in jazz music. For more information, including how to audition, please visit http://www.usc.edu/schools/music/about/signature/outreach/schools/
For more upcoming USC jazz events, please visit http://www.usc.edu/schools/music/