Please excuse me while I vent. I just can’t keep it in any more,

And since this is my website, I feel like I can let fly for a minute.

Has the whole country gone crazy?  How the hell does someone like Donald Trump get on an international news program and insult the president of the United States??  Who lets him on these news programs?  Has the whole country turned into one big reality television show?

Who the fuck is Donald Trump?  And what’s up with that ridiculous hairdo?  Is he trying to hide his pea-brain under all those layers of folded over hair?

Donald Trump inherited a real estate business from his father. He started out with lots of money. But like most real estate magnates in the U.S., he’s used other people’s money to fund his real estate ventures. If the venture went bust, like most of his Atlantic City holdings, he walked, no muss, no fuss, and the banks ate the losses. How did he and all the other real estate people get away with this shit?  De-regulation of banking and real estate laws, supported by none other than the political party he belongs to. Remember that Donald Trump puts his name on real estate ventures that are funded by other people’s hard earned money. This is the American way?

Donald Trump is on his third wife. He marries one blond bombshell after another, and trades them in for a younger one after a while, very much like his real estate ventures. Where does this asshole get off questioning the validity of Obama’s citizenship and college training??  Unbelievable!  I’m ashamed that something like this can happen in the U.S. Freedom of speech is one thing. Slander and idiocy are something altogether different.

Donald Trump undoubtedly makes far more money doing his reality T.V. show than he does in real estate. He pretends to be a boss of a fantasy corporation on his  show, hiring and firing people. He is a boorish, self-involved, loudmouth. How does someone with these questionable attributes  get as far as even being considered for the job of president of the United States? Lets thank reality T.V.and the media for this.

Trump is not the only one in this category. Several other perspective republican candidates for government positions are using the Fox news reality show format to further their political agendas, spreading a message of slander and misinformation directed towards their opponents. I blame the media as much as the politicians for this embarrassing behavior. Monica Lewinsky blows the president and gets her own radio show. Elliot Spitzer, governor of New York State, gets caught with hookers and winds up as a CNN reporter,!! Newt Gingrich leaves his wife while she is in the hospital with terminal cancer, and becomes a major spokesman for one of the countries major political parties.!!! Say what? You gotta be fucking kidding me! (In the words of my former employer, Buddy Rich) If a musician played with this level of integrity he would never get out of the practice room. Nobody would hire them.

Of course the republicans want to do away with funding to public radio and television. This is perhaps the only American-grown source of reliable and truthful news reporting we have. Compare this to Fox news , which relies on partisan smear tactics to further a political agenda and C.N.N, which at times seems more like a Broadway show than a purveyor of the news. The right wing in this country will say that NPR has a liberal bias, whatever the hell that is. What I hear on NPR is a balanced and in depth accounting of what is actually happening in the world, based on documented research presented by qualified experts from all sides of the political arena without all the partisan finger pointing and ulterior motives found elsewhere. And by the way, NPR hosts 95 percent of jazz radio in the U.S.

And while we’re at it, why is it that the Republican congress is so hell bent on lowering the deficit now???  Where were they during the last 40 years of lowering taxes  starting with Reganomics? The trickle down never did trickle down, and it never will. Why doesn’t anyone in the Republican Party talk about how deregulation and small government set the stage for the financial meltdown, which is another major contributor to the current deficit? And Fox news wants to see Obama’s diploma and birth certificate. Say what???  Is this a Rod Serling episode of the Twilight Zone?

We forget that we were all immigrants or children and grand children of immigrants to the U.S. at some point during our relatively short history. The original inhabitants of what is now America were the Native American Indians, who we conveniently moved aside. Is it very different today?  I often wonder about separation of Church and State, land of the free. Liberty and justice for ALL. Are we sure we are living by these credos?

Maybe we should check the constitution again a bit more carefully.

I’m sorry if I’ve offended anyone.  I feel this all had to be said, though.

Keep the faith, Bob





Attack of the Spam Snoids!

Dear music fans,

Since starting this blog I have been inundated with spam and erroneous posts that could potentially gum up the works on this blog and even shut it down. I am being hyper careful about whose posts I actually put up on the blog for the obvious reasons.

If you want to post something, please make you post obviously pertinent to the subject at hand. If I inadvertently delete you post out of concern, please forgive me. I have had some questionable experiences wih the internet in the past.   All the very best, Bob


Developing as a creative Musician

I’m reading a book at the moment about the Beatles, Cant Buy Me Love The Beatles, Britain and America by Jonathan Gould. In the early pages of the book we read about John, Paul and George being part of a band called the Quarrymen, who got together initially to play a style of music called Skittle (using a washboard and washbasin bass, something akin to rockabilly?)At the point where Buddy Holly, Elvis, and Little Richard hit the airwaves, the Quarrymen learn the songs from this early American rock and roll icons note for note, and set about working these songs into their repertoire. Having this exposure to the R and B and early rock and roll of America coupled with the experience of growing up in Liverpool, where a certain droll sense of humor pervaded a rough and tumble daily life, set the stage for a uniquely profound musical group that went on to change the course of history. It is this phenomenon of learning other people’s music in the early stages of an artist’s development that I would like to focus on here.  For it is this process that givesa performing musician an initial base in the language of song writing and playing with others, and ultimately leads to an innate understanding of how it all fits together.

We were doing a workshop in a public high school as part of our 4-night engagement at Jazz at the Bistro in St. Louis with the Yellowjackets last week.  During a question and answer session one of the students asked how one starts a band and gets it to the level that was being displayed at the workshop. Russ Ferrante, the pianist in the band, made light of the fact that we all learned how to play songs of the popular artists of the day when we were starting out. I realized that in fact we had exclusively dealt with this activity long before writing original material. And at the point we began to write original songs they were usually based on a song we had learned from someone else’s repertoire.

It is this process, then. that sets the stage for the creative musician to go on and compose original music that has an identifiable sound and style. Through the process of transcribing what other musicians do we develop our own approach through the vocabulary-expanding work of this very transcribing. The key ingredient is to transcribe a wide variety of artists and styles, and to then take the devices we most like about these artists and re-work and expand upon those initial ideas. As it is said, “good musicians borrow, great musicians steal.” I would go further and say the greatest musicians take another artist’s musical device and work it into something uniquely their own.

Once a musician has a repertoire, they can go out and play with others, and partake in the art of musical conversation. What follows is writing for those particular musicians, based on what you might want to project in the music. It is this collaboration with other musicians that inspires the individual to find musical devices in a practice setting that can then contribute in a meaningful way to the creation of a unique sounding music.

At least this is how it has worked for me. I continue to explore and learn all I can about all musics of the world in the quest to develop my own musical voice.  The more I know about what’s behind the music the more profound the effect is on my musical psyche. Being a complete musician goes well beyond the notes.  I’m grateful for that.   Bob Mintzer    4/20/2011



That Wonderful yet Elusive Place

That Wonderful yet Elusive Place

You are playing with your favorite rhythm section, and playing a tune that you have played many times before. The notes are flowing effortlessly back and forth between the players, engrossed in a deep and gratifying conversation. It doesn’t really feel like you are playing, but rather you are an observer from afar.  You hear things happen that have never happened before, and there is an incredible sense of joy and optimism in the moment.

This is a scenario we all strive for, and occasionally stumble onto in our quest to become better musicians and people. What are the ingredients that bring us closer to this place?

Vocabulary: To be fluent in a vocabulary one must know that vocabulary inside out, and have experience conversing with others. Public speakers generally read lots of books, articles, newspapers, have written countless papers on the subject of their expertise, and have engaged in conversation with countless others. An improvising jazz musician has presumably checked out the full spectrum of jazz in great detail (learned the repertoire, other player’s solos, and what the detailed components of the music are), gathered inspiration from other genres of music, and at some point spent a great deal of time making decisions about how and what they wish to convey in their music via their own particular vocabulary.  This includes the study of other great musicians systems, and the process of melding these systems into something unique that you can call your own.

Familiarity: You have spent lots of time playing the music at hand, to the point where you don’t have to think about form, chords, or general intention of the piece. You’ve dealt with how to specifically solo on this tune many times before, and the mind is quiet. Whatever note you play suggests the next note, and then the next. It becomes a matter of feel rather than thought.

Trust: You get to a point where you have the sense that the music will take care of itself as the result of the ensemble collectively moving in a given direction, where you don’t have to single-handedly make the music do anything in particular. The collective conscience of the band determines where the music will go. You don’t feel like you have to play the whole time, and in fact, what you don’t play is as important as what you do play.

Acceptance: Whatever music results are a reflection of that moment in time and the interaction of the musicians at hand.  It is ok and as it should be.

It is difficult to describe to someone who does not understand what this scenario is how deeply profound it can be. It is hard to explain why we would travel 30 hours on airplanes to play for one hour and hopefully get to this glorious place for a moment.

This place I describe is the most spiritual, centered, and enlightening place I know of.



The Glorious 60’s

The 60’s were an amazing time for this wacky human race.  I am grateful to have been a teenager during this era, when all sorts of values and concepts were being challenged by young people far and wide. We all began to wonder why the white Anglo Saxon model should be the guiding philosophy in daily life,, why Jewish folks were not allowed

to live in the next town over, why African Americans, were not hired to play in symphony orchestras, why Gays  and Women were not allowed into various lines of work,  why freedom of expression should be controlled and filtered by this same white Anglican philosophy.  The resulting music, art, and literature of this period had a fire and passion that is striking to me to this very day.

I’m grateful for the music that was inspired by and created in the 60’s:  Miles Davis’ series of ground breaking bands, John Coltrane’s further explorations,  Jimi Hendrix, all the great Bluenote recordings (Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Hank Mobley) ,the Beatles, James Brown,  Bob Dylan,  Leonard Bernstein,  even the James Bond movie sound tracks.  There was a profound sense of exploration and subtlety in all this music.

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to hear WNEW in New York, a radio station that played a wide variety of music, from Miles Davis to Sly and the Family Stone, to B.B. King, to John Coltrane., all on the same program! This was a period when good music was not categorized and formatted into narrow play lists on specialty radio stations.

I’m grateful to have grown up in an era when a middle class family could go on nice vacations, own a house, send their kids to college without going into serious debt. This was also an era when you could be a “starving artist” in New York City, and not actually starve.

How did we wind up where we are today?  We must not have been paying careful enough attention. It appears we have reverted back to some of the arcane views of yesteryear. When our governing body votes to cut off funding to National Public Radio and Television (which hosts most of the jazz stations) what will we do?

Listen to Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck?    Oye!!!  God help us all!


Thinking about the importance of being relaxed while playing

Tuesday March 15, 2011 Hello all! I’m  writing to you from Stockholm, Sweden.  I was thinking about how one of the keys to playing in a connected, concise fashion is so very contingent on being relaxed.  The components to being are relaxed

are: 1. Feeling like you are prepared, as in knowing the music inside and out to the point where you don’t have to think too hard about form, harmony, melody, etc. 2. Being of a mind-set where you are accepting of whatever happens in a musical situation, where you don’t judge yourself, but rather are accepting of whatever may go down. Generally if you’ve covered number 1 sufficiently, number 2 will be easier.  3. Being in good physical condition, which generally requires physical exercise, stretching, a good diet, and sufficient rest.  4. The realization that you are part of a greater whole, and you are only part of that greater whole. It is not just your playing that is the focus, but rather the interaction of all the musicians you are playing with that makes good things happen.

If you can surrender to the greater whole, then you can join in the conversation without having to feel like you have to make something happen.

Bottom line, get out of the way, and let the music happen. This is actually not a bad philosophy for daily life in general!   Keep the faith, Bob



What I’m reading

My latest  reading adventure is with an autobiography of the great tenor saxophonist/composer-arranger Jimmy Heath called  I Walked with Giants. Jimmy is an incredible musician who has been in the middle of jazz history since the early 50s up to the present. He hung with John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis, wrote tunes, arranged for big band, and continues to be a role model for the dedicated, consummate musician. There are many great anecdotes in this book from Jimmy and most of the people he worked with in jazz. A must read for any fan of the music!

New Yellowjackets Recording

The Yellowjackets celebrate a 30th anniversary this year. I’ve been in the band for 20 years. Hard to believe!  We are releasing our 21st cd called Timeline in mid March.

Further adventures of the Yellowjackets, venturing into some different areas for the band.

It is so great to be in a band where everyone is constantly trying to expand musically and bring fresh ideas to the table.  It seems like the possibilities with this band are limitless.

I’m very grateful to be associated with this organization.

What a schedule!

I’m just finishing up a week of traveling and playing that depicts how intense the life of a working/teaching musician can be. On Sunday February. 6th the Yellowjackets  finished a 6 night run at the Bluenote in NYC. The band sounded great with Will Kennedy back on board. Monday morning I flew back to Los Angeles on a 6 AM flight and went directly to USC where a full teaching day awaited. Tuesday morning I boarded a 6 AM flight for Casper, Wyoming where the Yellowjackets did an afternoon masterclass and evening concert. On Wednesday morning  I boarded a 6 AM flight back to L.A. and directly to USC for another full teaching day. Thursday morning (you guessed it) I took a 6 AM flight to Michigan to do a 2-day residency at Central Michigan University. Now it is Saturday morning, and I am flying back home to Los Angeles. Remarkably I don’t feel tired.  Thanks to a healthy life-style which includes daily exercise, a good diet, mental and spiritual care, and a job that I truly love, this is possible.

To get to play and share music with folks all over the world is one of the most energizing activities I know of.

Welcome to My New Website

Finally!  The debut of my new website, which was over a year in the making.

I hope you’ll enjoy the content, which includes lots of video, information about my career, my schedule and my discography, as well as music and books I’ve written.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated.