Mintzer has been conductor and arranger for WDR Big Band Cologne for six years now, relishing the opportunity to play regularly in an ensemble of 17 people, much like the touring bands of the Forties. These days most jazz musicians work in small groups, often playing in multiple to be able to earn a living, but here the big band format is alive and well. This allows Mintzer to organize concerts where they highlight a guest or ensure that there are plenty of highlights on the lead soloists in the band and it is the latter which we come across here on this set of 10 originals. Mintzer not only conducted and arranged this, but also provides tenor sax and Electronic Wind Instrument(EWI), and also ensures there is plenty of room for WDR members Paul Heller on tenor sax, Karolina Strassmayer and Johan Hörlén on alto saxes, Ruud Breuls and Andy Haderer on trumpets and Andy Hunter on trombone. One would not realise this is an album by a saxophonist apart from the cover art, such is the way he ensures the solos are shared among everyone.
I am not going to name the whole band, but a special mention must be made of drummer Hans Dekker and bassist (acoustic and electric) Stefan Rey as they provide an incredibly exciting foundation for the rest to work with while pianist Billy Test is another who never stops, providing a melodic counterbalance to the brass which is often leading the way. The title of this album is totally suitable, as this is one soundscape after another, taking us on a journey which feels very modern indeed, yet hearkens back to the golden days of this style of music. I can imagine playing this to my 83-year-old father, as this is the type of music he introduced me to when I was a lad, just brightened up and modernised. With no vocals to intrude, this is an airy reflection as we move through multiple moods and textures, always exciting and interesting and somehow with lots of space which is not easy when so many are involved. Any fan of the genre needs to seek this out.