Blog Archives

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”

18:39
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?

Charles Mingus – Tijuana Moods

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I first need to begin with huge thanks AGAIN to the mighty Marshall from Free City Sounds. He sent me this LP, and when it arrived in the mail I about fell over. Blown. Away. THANK YOU SIR!

And what a gift. Here is Mingus in 1957 (released in 1962). With him are Clarence Shaw (trumpet), Jimmy Knepper (trombone), Shafi Hadi (alto and tenor sax), Bill Triglia (piano), Dannie Richmond (drums), Ysabel Morel (vocals, castanets), Frankie Dunlop (percussion), and Lonne Elder (vocals).

Some things I noticed:

First:

As I stared lovingly at the cover art, was ‘Charlie’ Mingus, not ‘Charles.’ Says Wiki: “Mingus hated all nicknames derived from Charles (“Don’t call me Charlie; that’s not a man’s name, that’s a name for a horse”).

Second:

This edition is 180g Pure Virgin Vinyl (presumably made with 180 virgins!). It is “audiophile grade,” has deluxe inner sleeves, and was a one-pressing limited collector’s edition. Drooling yet? Me too!

Third:

How many times it states, on the cover and (mainly) in the liner notes, that this was the album that Mingus felt was his best work. It’s mentioned A LOT.

And now, before I attempt to write about this, I offer you a…

Disclaimer:

I am (likely) completely) under-qualified to write about this album. More knowledgeable people than me have written about it for decades, so if you want a real review, the internet is the place for you.

Still with me? Let’s go!

Dizzy Moods shifts a lot, bouncing from one mood to another. The players are getting a workout on track one! Of course, they nail it with aplomb.

Ysabel’s Table Dance is barely-restrained mayhem, that must’ve been one helluva dance! It becomes a sweet swing groove that fills me with so much bliss. Shafi Hadi’s sax line is killer… but wait, Ysabel’s crazy dance returns! And then we wind down beautifully, then we swing a while… and Ysabel sighs and we know we’re there. Whew. What a track!

Also, I have to assume that the cover photo is of Ysabel (or a lady meant to represent her), smoking her cigarette to calm herself following that performance and showing some lovely leg.

Slippers is a bonus track here, and it’s a full on latin club dance track explosion. Gorgeousness spilling out of the club into the warm city street… hot as hell! That trumpet solo absolutely slays.

Tijuana Gift Shop is a quick slinky bop jazz excursion that cannot help but put a smile on your face. All the instruments take turns in the spotlight, but nothing’s overbearing, nothing’s out of place, and everything just swings along perfectly. By the trumpet walks us out, you’re so into the groove you’re sad it’s ending so soon! I would place this as one of my favourite tracks of the form.

Los Mariachis is another sweet jazz track until the trumpet leads the shift into a happy dance middle section. Its voice is almost human, eloquent and joyful. We return to the swing and a rollicking trombone. We shift again, this time a bluesy  bottom end as the sax wails above. Then we ramp up the joyful again, this time the piano taking the lead, before the main swing line comes back briefly. Then we lift off into wailing trumpet and crescendo… then back again to bluesy and gentle…

Duke Ellington’s Flamingo is a gorgeous slow dance with a trumpet line I knew I recognized – I’ve heard Wynton Marsalis play a faster version of it on his amazing Standard Time Vol. 3: The Resolution Of Romance album. Here we’re in a slower mood, but the trumpet still reigns supreme. This performance is stellar!

In Sum:

Perfectly written and conceived, this is vital, passionate playing. It’s exciting as hell, smooth jazz meets experimental forays, all tied together with wonderful elements from south of the border. I love Mingus, and I absolutely fell in love with the energy, style, and virtuosity of this album.

I cannot thank Marshall of Free City Sounds enough for this wonderful record. COMMUNITY!

Charles Mingus – Pithecanthropus Erectus

Charles Mingus – Pithecanthropus Erectus

subtitled: Part 3 of 3, in which Aaron celebrates 10 years of living in his current town, and gets 3 Mingus albums for $6 (and his mind gets blown). MINI SERIES!!!

The Preamble:

I’m a jazzhead from way back. I mean, as a kid, sitting there with the headphones on, digging through my grandparents’ swing records… But then flirting with getting stuffed in lockers by the tech hall meatheads waaay back in high school. I mean, when the lugs (all deference, Mr. 1537) were listening to AC/DC and getting into fights in the smoking area, I was talking about chord and key changes in Harry Connick, Jr. songs. I never got stuffed in lockers, but probably only ‘cos I was also on the basketball team. Probably? Sure.

I recently bought this 2CD RM set that came with 3 Mingus records, brand new, for $6. Because why would you not? And here are my thoughts on these records…

Oddly, this boxed set moves us backwards through time. On CD1, as you’ll recall, is the venerable Ah Um album (1959). Then, the first four tracks on CD2 were the album The Clown (1957). And now here are tracks 5-8 from CD2, this album (1956).

So.

Pithecanthropus Erectus.

Having never heard it before, I looked it up on Wiki, and they say:

“Mingus noted that this was the first album where he taught arrangements to his musicians by ear in lieu of putting the chords and arrangements in writing… According to Mingus’s liner notes, the title song is a ten-minute tone poem, depicting the rise of man from his hominid roots (Pithecanthropus erectus) to an eventual downfall due to “his own failure to realize the inevitable emancipation of those he sought to enslave, and his greed in attempting to stand on a false security.” The song’s title translates into “Upright Ape-Man”, which holds a dual meaning with “upright” referring to Mingus’ bass.”

and…

“The Penguin Guide to Jazz gave it a maximum four-star rating and added it to its core collection, describing it as “One of the truly great modern jazz albums”. In the same review, “the all-in ensemble work” in parts of the first track, “Pithecanthropus Erectus”, is described as being “absolutely crucial to the development of free collective improvisation in the following decade”.”

I love everything about all of that!

And the music itself? Well my goodness, it’s a total gem. The title track is a sweet blues swing with momentary blasts of crazy free-form thrown in. Whoa. Up next it’s A Foggy Day, which is one of my lovely wife’s favourite songs, and the version here is beautiful and swingin’, once it gets going. It just needs to work past its skronky intro and outro bookends. The bass solo here is, of course, phenomenal. And what is that at 7:07, did someone drop a quarter or something?

Profile Of Jackie is pure light and airy gorgeousness, mellow yet picking up the pace when it needs to, a perfect late-night song. Love Chant rumble and rolls its way into more perfect jamming swing. I just love all of this.

In Sum:

A damn-near perfect record. Just WOW.

The 2CD Set In Sum:

Getting these three albums (Ah Um, The Clown, and Pithecanthropus Erectus) for $6 brand new is going to go down in history as one of my best musical scores of 2015. These are three vastly important records. I will not stop listening to them. If you can find this set at a comparable price, you would be very, very well-served to take it home with you. Completely recommended.

mingus ah um

Charles Mingus – The Clown

Charles Mingus – The Clown

subtitled: Part 2 of 3, in which Aaron celebrates 10 years of living in his current town, and gets 3 Mingus albums for $6 (and his mind gets blown). MINI SERIES!!!

The Preamble:

I’m a jazzhead from way back. I mean, as a kid, sitting there with the headphones on, digging through my grandparents’ swing records… But then flirting with getting stuffed in lockers by the tech hall meatheads waaay back in high school. I mean, when the lugs (all deference, Mr. 1537) were listening to AC/DC and getting into fights in the smoking area, I was talking about chord and key changes in Harry Connick, Jr. songs. I never got stuffed in lockers, but probably only ‘cos I was also on the basketball team. Probably? Sure.

I recently bought this 2CD RM set that came with 3 Mingus records, brand new, for $6. Because why would you not? And here are my thoughts on these records…

So.

The Clown.

This is the first album on the second CD of this set. It’s from 1957, and it’s genius. I was gonna write up each of the four tracks here, but Wiki already did better than I could ever do:

The following excerpts come from the original liner notes and are statements made by Mingus himself.

On “Haitian Fight Song”, Mingus said “[…] It has a folk spirit, the kind of folk music I’ve always heard anyway.[…] My solo in it it’s a deeply concentrated one. I can’t play it right unless I’m thinking about prejudice and persecution, and how unfair is it. There’s sadness and cries in it, but also determination. And it usually ends with my feeling ‘I told them! I hope somebody heard me!'”.

“Blue Cee” is a standard blues in two keys, C and B, “but that’s not noticeable and it ends up in C, basically”, he said and continued “I heard some Basie in it and also some church-like feeling”.

“Reincarnation of a Lovebird” is a composition dedicated to Bird. “I wouldn’t say I set out to write a piece on Bird. […] Suddenly I realize it was Bird. […] In one way, the work isn’t like him. It’s built on long lines and most of his pieces were short lines. But it’s my feeling about Bird. I felt like crying when I wrote it.”

“The Clown” tells the story of a clown “who tried to please people like most jazz musicians do, but whom nobody liked until he was dead. My version of the story ended with his blowing his brains out with the people laughing and finally being pleased because they thought it was part of the act. I liked the way Jean changed the ending; leaves it more up to the listener.”” [source page: Wikipedia]

Whew!

And with all that out of the way, I am free to talk about how great this whole thing sounds. Oh my goodness, the first three tracks are bluesy, they swing… it’s freakin’ gorgeous. I played them all through repeatedly and now my brain is on fire with it all. Loved it. The final track, The Clown, is definitely a different, odd track. It’s a little creepy (like the original album art!), a meditation on the costs of fame and notoriety. It’s a spoken word piece, which is a neat departure. The band sounds like they’re playing at the circus (of course), and the story is harrowing and dark. But no matter, the playing is, of course, stellar. This was a brilliant record, my goodness.

mingus ah um

Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um

Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um

subtitled: Part 1 of 3, in which Aaron celebrates 10 years of living in his current town, and gets 3 Mingus albums for $6 (and his mind gets blown). MINI SERIES!!!

The Preamble:

I’m a jazzhead from way back. I mean, as a kid, sitting there with the headphones on, digging through my grandparents’ swing records… But then flirting with getting stuffed in lockers by the tech hall meatheads waaay back in high school. I mean, when the lugs (all deference, Mr. 1537) were listening to AC/DC and getting into fights in the smoking area, I was talking about chord and key changes in Harry Connick, Jr. songs. I never got stuffed in lockers, but probably only ‘cos I was also on the basketball team. Probably? Sure.

I recently bought this 2CD RM set that came with 3 Mingus records, brand new, for $6. Because why would you not? And here are my thoughts on these records…

So.

Ah Um.

What more needs to be said? This is up there with Kind Of Blue, Take Five, A Love Supreme, Monk’s Dream (and others) as classic must-have jazz records. It was 1959, and this record just had to exist. It’s got tributes to Lester Young, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, and a song for John Cassavetes on it too. The music is so genuinely good, the playing phenomenal… To call this thing a classic is probably Understatement Of The Year. Oh well, there goes 2015 and it’s only May…

How many times have I played this album? Good question, but a general answer would be tons. I had it on cassette for years. I used to have a cassette walkman I loved because it had a rewind button and a 3-band graphic equalizer, and I played all my jazz on the go like that, on the band or basketball bus (headed to other schools in the area), or at home, alone in my room. I jammed to Louis, Harry, Duke, Miles, Coltrane, Bird, Mingus… them and many more (don’t get me started on the blues). That I’m just getting this on CD (for the second time) now speaks to my need to always have this record near. Any gap without it is not acceptable.

It’s still as restlessly brilliant and as achingly beautiful as it always was.

And that’s just CD1 of this 2CD, 3-album set!

mingus ah um

Charles Mingus – Changes Two

Charles Mingus – Changes Two

This album was recorded when I was 5 months old. I can guarantee I didn’t hear it then, sadly. But I’ve made up for lost time over the years.

For some strange reason, I do not have Changes One here (I need to correct that). No matter, there’s enough on this slab of genius to keep an ol’ jazz head like me occupied for hours. It just sounds so damn classy, buoyed as it is by Mingus’ bass. It’d be easy to just write about him for this whole thing, but (if you can imagine) there’s so much more here.

George Adams’ saxophone cuts through the incredibly-named Free Cell Block F, ’Tis Nazi U.S.A. like a new scythe through wheat. A stellar opening salvo.

Album marathon (at 17:32 long) Orange Was The Color Of Her Dress, Then Silk Blue is a centerpiece track. It sounds to me like a big band jamming after the bandleader has gone home for the night, stretching its legs, having a drink and trying out ideas that hadn’t made the cut earlier. Especially great are the bits where the players just let loose with blistering runs of notes that dissolve again into pure lounge swing. Don Pullen’s piano work is absolutely glorious.

The album continues in brilliance from there, as you can well imagine. The trumpet work of Jack Walrath on Black Bats And Poles blows my mind. I play trumpet (poorly), and everytime I hear this it’s so bloody sweet. Everyone else cuts loose too, and it’s a beautiful thing. Duke Ellington’s Sound Of Love features Jackie Paris on vocals, and is such a sweet track, my goodness. And finally, For Harry Carney closes out the album with eight minutes of bluesy freak-out glory that truly pleases me to no end.

I also need to give a shout-out to the drumming of Dannie Richmond throughout this album. He’s absolutely spot-on at every turn. Damn, I love this CD. And yes, I really oughta get Changes One. For now, I will continue to easily love this one. You need this.

charles_mingus_changes_two

rhymeallnight.com/

1 Shot Spitune

Cincinnati Babyhead

Speaks his mind on music & movies!

Steve For The Deaf

Certain Songs Get Scratched Right In

BuriedOnMars

The World Revolves Around Mars

Aphoristic Album Reviews

Personal Album Review Website

timeweleftthisworldtoday

This world's so mixed up everywhere you go

RAN Ink Writes

What It Sound Like?

Stuff and That.

We do reviews, ya dig?

stoneygate

relaxing music

The Audible Stew

Salt to Taste

1537

Because we really need something trivial right now

HEAVY METAL OVERLOAD

... and classic rock too!

Metal Odyssey > Heavy Metal Music Blog

Welcome to Metal Odyssey, it will be quite the Metal trip!

This is the story of the overly ambitious eagle...

...who evidently found a deer head in the landfill.

Living a Beautiful Life

~ Short Stories, Flights of Fancy and Everyday Anecdotes ~

Complex Distractions

conversations about music, life, and the alien overlords

vinnieh

Movie reviews and anything else that comes to mind

mixolydianblog

music is life, music is breath, music is us

A (Mostly) Music Blog

Some other stuff too, but mostly music.

Boppin's Blog

Albums, concerts, reviews, audio gear, how to's

Mike Slayen ~ Guitarist

Guitarist, Composer, Instructor

Free City Sounds

Album Reviews by Marshall Gu

80smetalman's Blog

Just another WordPress.com site

Every record tells a story

A Blog About Music, Vinyl, More Music and (Sometimes) Music...

KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

1001albumsin10years

Just another WordPress.com site

Thunder Bay Arena Rock

Hard Rock Album and Concert Reviews! (Odd Book Review as well!)

Caught Me Gaming

Confessions of a Casual Core Gamer

%d bloggers like this: