Vince Mendoza is back with a new, 9-piece album featuring music for and with the Metropole Orkest. Vince has worked with countless musicians in the past, like Joni Mitchell, Chaka Khan, Al Jarreau, Melody Gardot, or Gregory Porter. He has two tracks on his latest album with two of the most precious singers around: Dianne Reeves and Cécile McLorin Salvant. His intricate compositions, full of dramatic arrangements and lots of time changes, offer new perspectives with each listen. There is a wonderful string part halfway through “Partido Alto” for example. Its cinematic approach is probably the common thread here, with the album opener “Quixote” as another example.
There is no doubt that Dianne Reeves is one of the most impeccable and interesting vocalists around. What she brings to “Esperanto” is another one of her extremely versatile, imaginative and confident outputs. Cécile is featured on a sensitive ballad. With her high-pitched voice and sometimes operatic qualities, she graces “House Of Reflections” with her innate sophistication. It all sounds so easy and matter-of-factly, but still with an overindulgence that is hard to resist. “Big Night”, which came out as a single prior to the album release (March 3rd), is a welcome change of sound and style. With its soulful, sometimes even rock-induced arrangements, it moves away from the sometimes too massive stuff on offer.
I really like the refreshing mood on “Barcelona” and thought at first that “Lake Fire” was a bit too uneven, but it changes with more listens. Solo spots are used effectively and not too abundantly and with “Bright Lights And Jubilations”, we get another slickly produced Mendoza goodie, complete with soulful sax solo and percussive backdrops towards the middle which then turns into a somewhat odd-sounding, intricate and quirkily constructed piece which has the slight potential of becoming too unnerving.