Charles Mingus – The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 19: Sonic Boom #2 Charles Mingus – The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady

A no-brainer purchase, this used copy finds a very welcome home in my collection.

Now, do I really need to tell you about Mingus? No, probably not. Suffice it to say this record is absolute fucking genius. I played it twice through, one time right after the other, and when I was done I was six inches taller and I could spit forty feet. True story.*

If you’re a details-oriented person, here ya go: this album “consists of a single continuous composition – partially written as a ballet – divided into four tracks and six movements.” (wiki). Cool! Further: “The album was recorded on January 20, 1963 by an eleven-piece band. Mingus has called the album’s orchestral style “ethnic folk-dance music”. Mingus’s perfectionism led to extensive use of studio overdubbing techniques. The album features liner notes written by Mingus and his then-psychotherapist, Edmund Pollock. The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady is often characterized by jazz and music critics as one of Mingus’s two major masterworks (the other being Mingus Ah Um) and has frequently ranked highly on lists of the best albums of all time.”

Simply put, the fact that I am adding it to my collection only now, despite having heard other folks’ copies over the years, is so remiss that I have already turned in my Cool Cat Card and forfeited any and all street cred earned over years of jazz listening.

To coninue the album’s awesomeness, all tracks have subtitles. Check it out:

No. Title Subtitle Length
1. “Track A – Solo Dancer” “Stop! Look! And Listen, Sinner Jim Whitney!” 6:39
2. “Track B – Duet Solo Dancers” “Hearts’ Beat and Shades in Physical Embraces” 6:45
3. “Track C – Group Dancers” “(Soul Fusion) Freewoman and Oh, This Freedom’s Slave Cries” 7:22
4. “Mode D – Trio and Group Dancers”

“Mode E – Single Solos and Group Dance”

“Mode F – Group and Solo Dance”

“Stop! Look! And Sing Songs of Revolutions!”

“Saint and Sinner Join in Merriment on Battle Front”

“Of Love, Pain, and Passioned Revolt, then Farewell, My Beloved, ’til It’s Freedom Day”

Total length: 39:25


In Sum:

Everything about this album loudly proclaims true creativity, absolute mastery, unabashed audacity, and pure musical athleticism. It’s visceral, punchy, sometimes crazy, and always gorgeous. 

Mingus. Masterpiece. GO!


* Truth of this true story technically unverified but still, why ruin the magic when something sounds this cool, right?

10 thoughts on “Charles Mingus – The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady

  1. cincinnatibabyhead says:

    Who says music doesn’t corrupt. I’ve been listening to this one and smoking a pipe since i was 13. I couldn’t agree with you more on your take.

    I know you dig Duke (and other jazz guys and gals). Here’s a true story I shared with Vinyl Connection. I have this neighbor who runs out when he sees me walking by and gives me music LPS/CDs. No bullshit. Just last weekend he layed a bunch of CDs on me and ‘Money Jungle’ was in the mix. Duke, Mingus and Roach. He gave me an obscure Mingus record a few weeks ago. I’m not a collector but a listener and i’m on the moon. So if you want some cool old records start walking around your neighborhood looking a little scruffy with a cigar and headphones and you might get lucky.


    1. keepsmealive says:

      I definitely dig Duke (and other jazz guyd and gals)! That’s a great story, and you’re damn lucky! I WISH people would just randomly give me jazz records! I think if I walked around my neighbourhood like that, someone would call the cops. We’ve got a lot of bored retirees on our street.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. J. says:

    This is one of the few jazz albums I’m keen to own on vinyl… not one I’ve seen in the wild, though. Anyhoo, a fine grab… I would have assumed you had this one already… but you do now! Yas!


  3. Aphoristical says:

    Is this record hard to find? Has it been reprinted? I would have assumed that as an excellent album that wasn’t a high seller and has a great critical reputation, that it would be super expensive.


    1. keepsmealive says:

      I don’t know much about the LP – the copy I got was on CD. It seems readily available on the Canuck Amazon, and I paid (if I remember correctly) $7.99 CDN for it used at Sonic Boom. Have a look at Discogs, see what they have for LPs, our Amazon says $28CDN for a 2015 LP reissue.

      Liked by 1 person

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