Vince Mendoza & The Metropole Orchestra – Olympians (ENG review)

BMG // Release date: Friday, March 3rd 2023
Vince Mendoza & The Metropole Orchestra – Olympians

Vince Mendoza, who has won seven Grammy Awards and has been nominated 36 times, reunites with his long-time collaborator Metropole Orkest to record Olympians, a selection of the composer/ conductor’s compositions for the orchestra over the course of their 28-year collaboration. The album follows Freedom Over Everything from 2021, his first award-winning album for BMG’s Modern Recordings.
Despite this impressive record, I am less receptive to this album of compositions than to the excellent album What Place Can Be For Us by Anthony Branker, which remains the reference of the year so far, due to the quality of the compositions and the social role of this work.
Here, we feel the mastery of this artist who is used to film music, quickly producing compositions that borrow too much from classical music, with too obvious arrangements that offer no surprise effect. Nevertheless, the interpretations are remarkable, like in a big American show, we easily get caught up in the game because it is pleasant to the ear, but we come out feeling quite empty but amused.
We must therefore find some reasons in the artist’s lyrics, “The term ‘Olympians,'” explains Mendoza in reference to the album title, “is something I often use when I’m on the podium with Metropole, because I think this orchestra continues to play difficult music with grace, enthusiasm and precision, especially considering the wide range of projects they have accomplished over the years. They have really developed the ability to be at ease with many different styles of music, which is quite unusual for an orchestra. This recording shows them at the top of their Olympic powers.”
The only real interest remains in being able to hear fabulous artists, mainly the excellent Diane Reeves. We will be a little disappointed by the performance of Cecile McLorin Salvant, who is much too classical, and pleased to hear saxophonists Chris Potter and David Binney, percussionist Alex Acuña, and the late guitarist Ramón Stagnaro (playing the charango) who give meaning to these compositions that have a feeling of déjà vu.
For Bayou Blue Radio and Paris-Move, this is therefore an album that we will classify in the “good” (and 3 stars) category, without great enthusiasm, but mainly for the quality of the musicians and the recording.

Thierry Docmac
Correspondent in USA
Bayou Blue News – Bayou Blue Radio – Paris-Move

PARIS-MOVE, February 14th 2023


Album to order/buy here

Vince Mendoza’s website