Eric Mintel

Hopscotch

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Pianist Eric Mintel leads his quartet through an accomplished set of mostly original songs on Hopscotch. Like his idol, jazz icon Dave Brubeck -- who supplies some liner notes -- Mintel has a knack for lightly swinging melodies, odd time signatures, and some classical influences. Featuring the alto saxophone, flute, and clarinet of Neil Wetzel, the group also includes bassist Dave Antonow and drummer Jeremy Berberian. While Wetzel's alto playing sometimes edges unpleasantly sharp, the disc is largely appealing, and Mintel displays some intelligent and sensitive piano chops on such reflective pieces as "Dance of the Beautiful" and "Forty Days," the latter an enigmatic 5/4 section of Brubeck's 1968 religious oratorio The Light in the Wilderness.

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