Vince Mendoza – Nights on Earth – Horizontal

by | Oct 29, 2011 | Jazz CD Reviews

Vince Mendoza – Nights on Earth – Horizontal HJAZZ 092011-1 CD, 1.1 hrs. *****:
(Vince Mendoza, composer & keyboards; 22 musicians, including: Ambrose Akinmusire, Joe Lovano, John Abercrombie, Alex Acuna, Peter Erskine, Romero Lubambo, Christian McBride, Andy Narell, Jim Walker, Bob Mintzer, Kenny Werner & more, plus members of the Metropole Orkest)
Mendoza’s likes to collaborate with large groups: his last album (1997) was Epiphany, with the London Symphony Orchestra. He also did Fast City: a Tribute to Joe Zawinul, as well as Blauklang. For the past six years Mendoza has been conductor of the Metropole Orkest in Amsterdam—that hotbed of genre-busting music-making, and he uses members of that Dutch ensemble here, as well as Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza, a kora player and singer from Mali, an Algerian drummer, and French saxist Stephane Guillaume. This is an amazing semi-symphonic dozen-track creation with all-star collaborators, all composed, arranged and conducted by Mendoza.
The pieces are evocative of events and concerns in Mendoza’s recent life, and while mostly instrumental, two of them have vocals.  “Shekere” – with vocal by Tom Diakite from Mali, has a lovely African sound. It picks up the tempo partway thru for a rousing beat and a great guitar solo by Nguyen Le. “Ao Mar” is a beautiful and original bossa nova vocal number which sounds plenty authentic to me, though since there’s no translation of the lyrics I can only guess what it’s about. Luciana Souza is the singer, and the fine guitar solo is by Romero Lubambo. The closing track, “Lullaby,” opens with a striking cello solo. An accordion joins in for a tango-flavored but very quiet contemplative track.  Simple gorgeous, and with all these A1 musicians you can’t miss.
Otono, Poem of the Moon, Ao Mar, Conchita, The Stars You Saw, Addio, Shekere, Beauty and Sadness, The Night We Met, Gracias, Everything is You, Lullaby.
—John Henry

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