¡Que Viva Mingus!

COMPOSERS: Charles Mingus
LABELS: Dreyfus
ALBUM TITLE: Mingus Big Band
PERFORMER: Randy Brecker, Earl Gardner, Alex Sipiagin, Ryan Kisor (t); Ku-umba Frank Lacy, Clark Gayton (tb); Steve Turre (tb, shells); Earl McIntyre (b-tb, tu); Dave Taylor (b-tb); Chris Potter (ss, as); Steve Slagle (ss, as, f); Seamus Blake (ss, ts); Vincent Herr
CATALOGUE NO: FDM 36 593-2

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Although the late bassist/composer Charles Mingus’s most stern admonition to posterity was that his output should not be categorised but simply regarded as ‘Mingus music’, he was reportedly somewhat bitter that his pioneering work in the Latin-jazz field had gone largely unremarked.

This album – the third by the Mingus Big Band, which can now draw on a pool of around 150 musicians – therefore performs a valuable service in collecting and performing Mingus’s Latin-influenced compositions from 1949’s ‘Moods in Mambo’, through his celebrated Tijuana Moods material, to a late masterpiece ‘Cumbia and Jazz Fusion’. The band, however – comprising as it does the cream of New York’s working jazz musicians – is anything but a polite repertory outfit re-creating former glories for nostalgics.

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Mingus, like his great inspiration Duke Ellington, was a master at providing perfect musical settings for individual band members. And to these superb, gutsy pieces the band brings not only all the required vigour and rumbustiousness, but, crucially, a wealth of highly original and affecting soloing skills. While this band flourishes, the power and glory of Mingus’s music will live on.