Vince Mendoza & Metropole Orkest – Olympians – Modern Recordings

by | Feb 6, 2023 | Jazz CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Vince Mendoza & Metropole Orkest -Orchestral jazz at its best…

Vince Mendoza & Metropole Orkest – Olympians – Modern Recordings/BMG #53886/7902 (CD); # 538845581 (LP) – 60:03 – ****1/2

(Vince Mendoza – composer, conductor, keyboards, percussion; Metropole Orkest (Netherlands); with featured soloists and guests: Dianne Reeves – vocals (#2); Cecile McLorin Salvant – vocals (#4); Chris Potter – tenor sax (#8); David Binney – alto sax (#7); Alex Acuna – percussion; Ramon Stagnaro – charango (#1); )

Composer Vince Mendoza is a 7 time Grammy winner, noted for composing orchestral music that bridges many different musical genres. Ranging from pop, jazz, rock influenced, to Americana themes, comparing to Maria Schneider, and at times, Aaron Copland, (in sweeping “classical influenced” compositions.) As an arranger and conductor, he is a first call choice for jazz musicians expanding their repertoire to full orchestral works. Mendoza’s use of soaring strings, with full woodwinds and brass, help bring a wondrous and intoxicating sound stage that is truly unforgettable.

Vince has collaborated with the (Dutch) Metropole Orkest for nearly three decades. This massive orchestra has been performing for 75 years, the longest government funded orchestra in the world. They have covered numerous musical idioms ranging from jazz, pop, and film music. 

On their new collaboration with Mendoza, they reprise nine extended tracks, this time with special guest artists. Jazz vocalists, Dianne Reeves and Cecile McLorin Salvant, recorded their tracks in the United States, and the orchestral accompaniment was added later. The sound mix (on CD and LP) is warm and inviting, bringing to center stage the soloists and guest artists. Special mention should be given to orchestra members Peter Tiehuis (electric guitar), Marc Scholten (saxophones), and drummer, Martijn Vink. Each has made a significant impact on the final project.

On the opening track, “Quixote,” the strings rise to angelic heights ,while Marc Scholten’s soprano sax sweetens the majestic movie theme quality mix.

“Esperanto” with lyrics by Kurt Elling, has Dianne Reeves sweetly covering eternal questions (quite possibly asked by precocious children?) such as “If I die, where does time go?” Or “How does smoke learn to fly?” 

On a disquieting “Partido Alto,” concert master, violinist Arlia DeRuiter, helps lead the strings in an uneasy theme, at times buzzing like hornets. Cecile McLorin Salvant vocalizes another existential life journey on “House of Reflections,” with lyrics like “we are lonely travelers through life’s dreams, where do we go from here?”

“Big Night” is rock influenced, with major contributions by guitarist, Peter Tiehuis and drummer, Martijn Vink. They each return on the live track, “Bright Lights and Tribulations,” which could be used effectively in a rock opera.

Guest American jazz saxophonists, David Binney and Chris Potter are featured respectively on “Lake Fire” and “Barcelona.” Binney has an edgy solo with the horns rising over a repetitive vamp on the former, while Potter is given extended tenor sax blues solos on the latter.

Fans of Vince Mendoza will find lots to like on this new release. His intriguing talent mixing musical genres, in an orchestral setting, is so easy to fall in love with, certainly a healthy addiction…

Vince Mendoza – Olympians:

Partido Alto
House of Reflections
Miracle Child
Big Night
Lake Fire
Bright Lights and Jubilations

—Jeff Krow

More information available through Modern Recordings:

Logo Modern Recordings

Album Cover for Vince Mendoza Metropole Orkest - OIympians


Related Reviews
Logo Pure Pleasure
Logo Crystal Records Sidebar 300 ms
Logo Jazz Detective Deep Digs Animated 01