Friday, April 13, 2012

February 17th, 2012 - ERIC MINTEL QUARTET “You have a good ear.”


Each of these blogs have been recorded during indeterminate nonsense-time. They have been experienced in something insultingly similar to the actual time. Let us move to February 17th of this year. I wandered to the Rodale Community Room at Allentown Symphony Hall and sat down for some smooth jazz (the original musical choice of the Mohawk group of indigenous people). We were all here to see the Eric Mintel Quartet and were informed that they recently performed at a white house. That is my usual criteria. If it's good enough for the commander-in-chief, it's good enough for Commander Kool. Perhaps that should be the other way around.

The Eric Mintel Quartet consisted of Eric Mintel on piano, Nelson Hill on saxophone/flute, Jack Hedgyi on bass, and Dave Mohn on drums. These four gentlemen tore it up. They said “hey you, I dare you not to enjoy this onslaught of sound” No one had the courage to respond. A friend of mine approached me during intermission and said “they are what I would call one talented group of mofos.” I cannot recall if he actually said the abbreviated version.

In the beginning, I felt energy from Eric, Nelson and Dave but it took some time for Jack to win me over with the bass. At one point he was playin' dat solo that you always dreamed about and then he was showing me some sadness in his chord structure. Eventually he started swingin' that bass like he drunk with jazz. I found Mr. Hedgyi to be most appealing in the way that he bonded with his instrument. It was clear that he loved his bass and was not afraid to show it. He was sexy and he knows it.

Eric Mintel was very open about spending some time to answer my questions after the performance. I asked him about his writing process and his response was interesting. Eric told me that he often learns through performance. After a show he will reflect on different passages that came to fruition and rework them in his head. He will start humming melodies on his drive home and then record them on his smartphone so that he does not forget. Alike to me, he dislikes scoring out music. It's always great for me to hear when successful musicians work around that in the high art scene.

As our conversation continued, I realized that Eric and I had much in common. I was asking him about his chord patterns and how they subtly allude to some scary realms. He said “You have a good ear.” John Goldsmith, you ever see that complement coming my way? Yeah, neither did I. Moving on, I asked him what he listened to lately. Eric told me that he tends to not listen to any jazz. I was stunned for a second and then he proceeded to explain how he did not wish to be influenced by other music. His intellectualism was being cultivated from within. When I was about 16 or 17 years old, I had a similar conversation with my father. He kept telling me that I needed to listen to various guitarists and bass players but I exclaimed that I did not merely want to be an amalgam of existing ideas. It was not my intention to be under the influence or what have you. After this conversation occurred, I have desired to watch Eric play again. If you are curious, visit their website @ www.ericmintelquartet.com

-Orenda


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