Vince Mendoza & Metropole Orkest: Olympians

The capable and versatile Metropole Orkest plays the music of its former conductor, with solos from Chris Potter, David Binney and others


Composer, arranger and conductor Vince Mendoza has collaborated with major figures both in and out of jazz, winning several Grammy awards along the way. From 2005 to 2013 he was chief conductor for the Metropole Orkest, an ensemble that has its home in the Netherlands. It is a huge orchestra capable of more or less delivering the goods in whatever field it is presented with.

In a way Olympians is a tribute to modern technology: most of the material was captured in August and September 2020 but a high percentage of the guests were recorded remotely the following year in various locations across the United States.

When given its head (which is most of the time), the Metropole Orkest presents an impressive sound, although some of the ensemble work may be too overblown for some and simply too much for those who have an aversion to strings in a jazz or semi-jazz context.

There are plenty of mood changes within this set of Mendoza originals, also arranged by himself, and although the solos from the two name saxophonists are welcome, band members also get their own space, with electric guitarist Peter Tiehuis frequently adding some bluesy touches to the wash of horns plus strings. However, it is the collective efforts which mostly take the ear and when those aforesaid horns come into the foreground it is a glorious experience indeed.

Quixote; Esperanto; Partido Alto; House Of Reflections; Miracle Child; Big Night; Lake Fire; Barcelona; Bright Lights And Jubilations (60.13)
Collectively, Vince Mendoza (cond, kyb, pc, whistles); Metropole Orkest; Dianne Reeves, Cecile McLorin Salvant (v); Chris Potter (ts); David Binney (as); Alex Acuna (pc); Ramon Stagnaro (charango). Hilversum, August and September 2020 & various dates in 2021.
Modern Recordings/BMG 538867902