Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Charles Mingus - Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus (Impulse, 1963)

Coming hard on the heels of the album that many feel is Mingus's masterpiece, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, this album takes a ten piece little big band and reprises several of Mingus' most well known compositions and was recorded in January and September of 1963. Joining the great bassist and composer are several jazz luminaries like Eric Dolphy and Charlie Mariano on alto saxophone, Jaki Byard on piano, Booker Ervin on tenor saxophone, and Dannie Richmond on drums. "Better Get Hit In Yo' Soul" is one of the most rollicking themes in the Mingus canon and it gets a rousing treatment here with propulsive saxophone riffing and Mingus urging the musicians to go higher, faster and stronger. Written to honor the great saxophonist, "Theme for Lester Young" is a remake of Mingus' famous Pres tribute "Goodbye Porkpie Hat." It's a mournful and touching performance that hints at Young's famous style of laid back swing. Mingus' idol was always Duke Ellington and and the group makes fine tribute to him with a beautiful performance of one of Ellington's most famous songs, "Mood Indigo." Most fascinating is the previously unreleased "Freedom" which has a chain gang rhythm while Mingus recites a spoken word passage about the search for freedom in America and the Civil Rights movement. It is one of the most powerful of the great man's spoken pieces, ranking with "Fables of Faubus" for emotional resonance. This is a truly fine Mingus album, one of the last ones before he would spend a period in the wilderness due to lack of a record contract and personal problems. Mingus leads a great band though excellent music, and this should on no account be missed.
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