Amazon.com Widgets

Andy Summers: Peggy's Blue Skylight

By Published: | 6,116 views
No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The former Police guitarist assays the multifaceted works of Charles Mingus on this compelling disc, offering updates of the temperamental bassist’s timeless compositions. Summers previously tackled solid material by Mingus, Wayne Shorter, Thelonious Monk and other jazzmen on his 1997 project The Last Dance of Mr. X, with bassist Tony Levin and drummer Gregg Bissonette. Peggy’s Blue Skylight finds Summers and a wider cast mining Mingus’ legacy more deeply, revealing that these classic tunes still have plenty to offer contemporary musicians and fans.

As is his habit, Summers tackles each selection with a different approach, giving this project a kind of Downtown jazz-rock-funk vibe. For example, Mingus’ driving train rhythm on Boogie Stop Shuffle is sacked in favor of a back-alley slink. Tonight At Noon starts off like an acoustic Delta blues but soon shifts into high electric gear. Other tracks echo Pat Metheny, John Scofield and supermarket soundtracks. It takes a strong talent and fine-tuned ears like Summers’ to weave such a many-textured tapestry out of one composer’s works while keeping the project entertaining and commercially viable.

The supporting musicians are notably well-chosen. Bassist Dave Carpenter is particularly versatile, pumping out steady rock rhythms one moment and mirroring Mingus’ own thundering sound the next. Cellist Hank Roberts distinguishes himself mightily on several tracks, leading one to anticipate further collaborations. Rapper Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest evocatively recites a Mingus poem over Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, and Blondie frontwoman Deborah Harry seductively groans Weird Nightmare. The Jazz Passengers and Kronos Quartet each contribute excellent performances in their turn. And over it all hover the chameleonic tones of Andy Summers, his impeccable musicianship guiding guitar and ensemble onto paths familiar and uncharted.

This is a much more enjoyable, even-tempered tribute than Hal Willner’s Weird Nightmare album, with its bizarre Harry Partch instrumentation and skewed arrangements. That disc seemed more reflective of Mingus’ troubled mental and emotional state than the true spirit of his compositions. Peggy’s Blue Skylight simply celebrates one of America’s great musical talents without an obligation to analyze his quixotic personality. Highly recommended.

Track Listing: Boogie Stop Shuffle; Tonight At Noon; Reincarnation of a Lovebird; Opus Three; Cumbia Jazz Fusion; Remember Rockefeller at Attica; Peggy

Personnel: Andy Summers, guitars, electric sitar (#11); Dave Carpenter, bass; Joel Taylor, drums; Randy Brecker, trumpet (#1); Nick Ariondo, accordion (#2, 7); Hank Roberts, cello (#2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 11); John Novello, Hammond B-3 organ (#3, 4, 8, 9); Geetha Bennett, vocal, veena and tamboura (#3); Rob Thomas, violin (#4, 6, 10); Michito Sanchez (#5, 6, 7), Brian Kilgore (#6), percussion; Alison Wedding (#6), Deborah Harry (#8), Q-Tip (#9), vocals; Curtis Fowlkes, trombone (#6, 10); Roy Nathanson, alto sax (#10); Bill Ware, vibes (#10); Kronos Quartet (#11)

Record Label: RCA Victor

Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


comments powered by Disqus
Support All About Jazz Through Amazon

Weekly Giveaways

Wadada Leo Smith

Wadada Leo Smith

About | Enter

Mort Weiss

Mort Weiss

About | Enter

Rotem Sivan

Rotem Sivan

About | Enter

Michael Carvin

Michael Carvin

About | Enter

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW

Enter it twice.
To the weekly jazz events calendar

Enter the numbers in the graphic
Enter the code in this picture

Log in

One moment, you will be redirected shortly.