Vince Mendoza presents all-star cast for new project “Nights on Earth”

After a remarkably productive decade which saw him writing stellar orchestral arrangements for recordings by such popular singers as Bjork, Melody Gardot, Sting and Joni Mitchell (he won two of his six Grammy Awards and 25 nominations for his contributions to her Both Sides Now in 2000 and Travelogue in 2003), Vince Mendoza has shifted focus back to his own compositions for the first time in 13 years. His most personal and compelling project to date, Nights on Earth is yet another crowning achievement in the career of the acclaimed composer-arranger-conductor.
On this eagerly-awaited follow-up to Epiphany (which he recorded in 1997 with the London Symphony Orchestra), Mendoza recruited an all-star cast of longtime collaborators like guitarists John Abercrombie, John Scofield and Nguyen Le, drummer Peter Erskine, percussionist Luis Conte, organist Larry Goldings, steel drummer Andy Narell, pianists Kenny Werner and Alan Pasqua, saxophonists Bob Mintzer and Joe Lovano. He is also joined by such new friends as Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza, Malian kora player and singer Tom Diakite, Argentinian bandoneon master Hector del Curto, Algerian drummer Karim Ziad, French saxophonist Stéphane Guillaume and young American jazz stars in bassist Christian McBride, drummer Greg Hutchinson and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, a winner of recent awards from the Jazz Journalists Association and DownBeat. Along with members of the Metropole Orkest, the Dutch ensemble that Mendoza has presided over as chief conductor for the past six years, they bring to life these evocative pieces that flow directly from the composer’s heart to his pen.
“I always thought that being a musician is about having a community of artists that inspires you,” says Mendoza in a recent news release, “and I think part of the process of the creation of this recording has to do with the people that I have met and learned from along the way. A lot of what this music has to do with is celebrating that community of the musicians from the many traditions that they represent.”

While names such as Abercrombie, Scofield, Lovano, Werner, Mintzer and Erskine represent the jazzier side of Mendoza’s community of artists (they appeared on his 1990 Blue Note album Start Here and his 1991 follow-up for the label, Instructions Inside), musicians like Souza, del Curto, Diakite and Ziad represent his adventurous explorations into world music (as on 1992’s Jazzpana and more recently on 2009’s Viento: The Garcia Lorca Project).


“I have an affinity with these musicians and their music, as they also have with my writing,” says Mendoza. “I wanted to incorporate them into my compositions, to frame their voice in an interesting way. And I thought they would have a connection to my writing style in their improvisations.”




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