From Critical Jazz (Jazz blog):
“Lopeman waited till his early fifties for his debut as a leader and comes out swinging! While Lopeman has a sound reminiscent of Zoot Sims, Lopeman's sound is unique and so is his swing and choice of instrumentation. Lopeman's choice of tunes borders on the eclectic but are all pulled off with first-rate style! Along with a tremendous instrumental voice there is another formidable talent as all arrangements are done by Lopeman as well.”
From “Jazz Lives” (Michael Steinman’s jazz blog):
“QUIETLY SPECTACULAR: ‘NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT’:
MARK LOPEMAN’S DEBUT CD
“…Mark is also one of those players who has thoroughly absorbed the tradition but has managed to bob along on the waves, remaining true to himself. So a tenor aficionado will hear affectionate side-glances of Charlie Rouse and Al Cohn, Lucky Thompson and Stan Getz, but Mark is not one of those Real Book / play-along creations who coast from one learned phrase to another. He is himself, and what a good thing that is!
“…I worry that JAZZ LIVES readers will think I am always tugging at their collective sleeves (and credit cards) saying “Buy this! Buy this!” But this CD is quietly spectacular. Nice work indeed, Mark — and how lucky we are that we can indeed get it.”
From Amazon.com Customer Reviews:
“Mark Lopeman brings back all the nostalgia of the years when solid jazz ensembles peppered the clubs across the land, depending on artistry rather than manipulated miking and light effects and abused amplification. This album, NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT (thanks to the Gershwins), is full of fine tunes played by fine artists, not the least of which is Mark Lopeman himself - saxophonist extraordinaire! It makes the listener want to complete the words to the title - `and you can get it - if you try'. All you need to do is put this CD on the player and you CAN get it!
Lopeman is ably assisted in this concert by Ted Rosenthal, Nicki Parrott & Tim Horner and the selections they play are familiar songs but offered here with a freshness that makes them seem brand new. The arrangements are Lopeman's and he has graced the set with two original songs. Few of us can deny some warm feelings attached to the songs here - `Love Walked In', `My Reverie', ``My Kind of Girl', `I'm a Fool to Want You', the title song, `I'm Always Chasing Rainbows', `Everything Happens to Me', etc. Truth is there isn't a weak band on this finely recorded CD.”
From the Liner Notes:
“…Those of us who have known and respected Mark Lopeman since his arrival in New York three decades ago are delighted that he finally has decided to put his singular talents in the spotlight. If his playing and writing are new to you, it’s a safe bet that hearing this CD will leave you wanting to hear more.
The genesis of this album occurred early in 2011, when pianist Ted Rosenthal hired
Lopeman to play some arrangements that Rosenthal had written for singer Ann Hampton Callaway. (Rosenthal was jazz icon Gerry Mulligan’s last pianist, and Lopeman had worked with both men in Mulligan’s early-1990s tentet. That experience and others made Lopeman an admirer of Rosenthal’s exceptional skills as a soloist and accompanist.) Lopeman was delighted with the rhythm section—Rosenthal, bassist Nicki Parrott, and drummer Tim Horner—and realized that they would be ideal partners for him on a CD of his own. To augment this group, Lopeman also hired trumpeter Brandon Lee and trombonist Noah Bless. Like the rhythm section, Lee and Bless are unclichéd players who Lopeman knew would be comfortable with any musical direction he wanted to explore. (As it turned out, his instincts were sound: the recording sessions went without a hitch, and virtually all of the tracks on this album are first “takes.”)
And there are a number of those musical directions on this album. Lopeman’s choices in repertoire are intriguing and un-hackneyed: Gershwin’s still-durable “Love Walked In” (here done with the verse), four songs that are associated with Frank Sinatra (“My Kind Of Girl, ” “I'm A Fool To Want You,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” and “Everything Happens To Me”), two classical-cum-pop adaptations, a forgotten Michel Legrand melody from his score to The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, a seldom-performed Joni Mitchell opus, Fats Waller’s classic “Jitterbug Waltz,” and two first-rate Lopeman originals. On the pieces played by the sextet, Lopeman’s arrangements are frequently much more than the perfunctory head-solos-head charts most often heard on jazz small- group recordings. Hear “Jitterbug Waltz” (with soprano lead) and both of Lopeman’s own compositions (“Intentions” with its subtle clarinet lead, “World Economy Blues” in collaboration with Chris Byars) as illustrations of his scoring skills.
As a soloist, Lopeman is heard here primarily on tenor saxophone, and he has an
arresting voice. His models come primarily from 1950s pre-John Coltrane sources: Lucky Thompson, Hank Mobley, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Warne Marsh, Harold Land, and Sonny Rollins. He obviously has listened well to all of them and many others and
has come up with a compelling synthesis that sounds utterly personal and undated. His soprano saxophone, heard on “Jitterbug Waltz” and “Woodstock,” is a nice change of pace, displaying elements of Coltrane, Sims, and Thompson.
—Bill Kirchner August 2011
(Bill Kirchner is a saxophonist, composer-arranger, bandleader, jazz historian, record and radio producer, and educator.)