Vince Mendoza: Epiphany

Vinyl reissue for the 1997 set with Kenny Wheeler, Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, John Taylor, John Abercrombie, Marc Johnson and Peter Erskine

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Originally released in 1999, Epiphany, by composer, arranger and seven-time Grammy winner Vince Mendoza, receives its first reissue, appearing on vinyl for the first time, accompanied with new artwork by Anne Stahl and remastered by esteemed engineer Bernie Grundman.

It features eight tracks in total, recorded at Abbey Road studios. The first movement, titled Impromptu, is entirely driven by the London Symphony Orchestra with intermittent echoes of guitarist John Abercrombie. It’s followed by Wheaten Sky, which shares a similar narrative cautiously growing to a climax and introducing trumpeter Kenny Wheeler to the stage.

Esperança (“hope” in Portuguese), initially intended for Bob Mintzer and the Yellowjackets, is a light, upbeat composition with solos from pianist John Taylor and Abercrombie and ending with a predictably raucous improv from tenorist Michael Brecker. The title track begins with solo piano from Taylor before drummer Peter Erskine establishes time and soloist Joe Lovano gently floats above the rich harmonies, intertwining with melodic oboe lines. Later, the tune opens out into a mellow solo by Taylor.

Barcelona crosses over to a more conventional jazz setting allowing Brecker to explore his creativity over a repeated vamp and includes Abercrombie using a completely changed guitar tone.

Epiphany is a great example of Mendoza in his element, having fun arranging his own compositions in a full symphonic setting and blending a range of textures and timbres in a subtle style, all topped off with a stellar line up of soloists from across the instrumental spectrum. Curiously, the fourth side of this double album is blank – but, as Ernest Tubb might say, that’s all they wrote.

Discography
Impromptu; Wheaten Sky; Ambivalence (23.40) – Esperança; Sanctus (17.20) – Barcelona; Epiphany; Deep Song (21.28)
Mendoza (cond); Kenny Wheeler (t, flh); Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano (ts); John Taylor (p); John Abercrombie (g); Marc Johnson (b); Peter Erskine (d); London Symphony Orchestra. London, July 1997.
Ronnie Scott’s Records RSMW001