Vince Mendoza and his Wonderful Music

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Vince Mendoza isn’t exactly a household name, but he is a composer worth knowing more about.  Top jazz musicians like John Scofield, Joe Lovano, the late Michael Brecker and the late great Joe Zawinul certainly did.  I first discovered his music on a Charlie Haden cd from the 1980s called “Angel in the City”.   There is a sparkle and innocence in his songs.  They go deep too.  I wanted to feature the title cut from “Epiphany” on my 9/11 show.  It would have fit the tone and mood of the day.   He loves texture and color;  on his brilliant 1999 cd “Epiphany”, he uses vibraphone, piano, and concert harp together.  He is clearly influenced by Gil Evans, who achieved fame for his innovative use of French horns, tubas, and flutes together.   Vince has reprised the famous Miles Davis album “Kind of Blue” with the 2008 cd “Blauklang” (Blue Sound) on Act Records, a superb German import label.   Vince is also an accomplished conductor:  While working for the L.A. Philharmonic as Program Director for World Music, I managed to help secure him a conducting gig for the Brazilians Ivan Lins and composer Guinga, whose sold-out show that night at Walt Disney Concert Hall featured strings from the L.A. Philharmonic.  It was wonderful and Vince did a great job conducting.

In October a new cd comes out, Nights on Earth.  It features Brazilian singer Luciana Souza, John Abercrombie, Luis Conte, Peter Erskine, Greg Hutchinson, Nguyen Lê, Joe Lovano, Romero Lubambo, Alan Pasqua, John Scofield, Kenny Werne, and Ambrose Akinmusire.  Quite a cast of musicians from all corners of the globe, coming together to perform and celebrate Vince Mendoza’s Music.   I’ll be writing more about that cd once it comes out.  After all, I’m a diehard Vince Mendoza fan.

And P.S.:  I just found out that  Vince is conducting a Miles Davis / Gil Evans tribute this weekend at the Monterey Jazz Festival!

Here are two cuts you can stream:  Epiphany, the title track from the 1999 album, featuring a beautiful saxophone solo by Joe Lovano, as well as a sneak preview track from the forthcoming cd, Nights on Earth, called “Shekere”.  Enjoy.

Epiphany:

[audio:http://blogs.kcrw.com/rhythmplanet/audio/Epiphany.mp3]

Shekere:

[audio:http://blogs.kcrw.com/rhythmplanet/audio/Shekere.mp3]