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Album Review

Pianist Eric Mintel leads his quartet through an accomplished set of mostly original songs on Hopscotch. Like his idol, jazz icon Dave Brubeck — who supplies some liner notes — Mintel has a knack for lightly swinging melodies, odd time signatures, and some classical influences. Featuring the alto saxophone, flute, and clarinet of Neil Wetzel, the group also includes bassist Dave Antonow and drummer Jeremy Berberian. While Wetzel's alto playing sometimes edges unpleasantly sharp, the disc is largely appealing, and Mintel displays some intelligent and sensitive piano chops on such reflective pieces as "Dance of the Beautiful" and "Forty Days," the latter an enigmatic 5/4 section of Brubeck's 1968 religious oratorio The Light in the Wilderness.

Customer Reviews

I dig it

This album is upbeat but old school Jazz. The majority of the tunes sound as if they could have been written in the 50’s or even earlier in some cases. It is decidedly happy and spirited. There is not a hint of pretentious introspection or a conveyance if intense angst or overwhelming seriousness. It is competently written and executed. Mr. Mintel’s Playing is reserved and straight forward. His solos are thoughtful and concise. Neil Wetzel’s playing is highly energetic and quite surprising for a relatively unknown sax player. He has a highly developed and mature sounding style which sounds much like a modern Cannonball Adderly. His solos are well executed with a harmonic sophistication that you don’t get to hear in many modern Alto players. I’m not sure what the person in the former review was speaking about with regard to him being sharp but it is my estimation that he is a musician of a very high order. Mr. Wetzel also performs very well on Flute and Clarinet. There a few very nice bass solos which are sometimes a little hard to hear and the drums are tasteful and on the money. This is a great album if you are looking for something in the classic jazz idiom that you haven’t heard before.

Hopscotch, Eric Mintel Quartet
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