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Reinterpreting the compositions of Charles Mingus means planning ahead of time what Mingus created spontaneously in front of an audience. With his control-the-bass-line-rhythm, and with some vocal cheerleading, he'd have his band give its audience a thrilling performance every night out. The big bands capture that feeling in its entirety, and display it clearly and crisply; but without the same gusto Mingus always managed to project. This time, four of the ten pieces are performed by a different ensemble: the Charles Mingus Orchestra. Personnel are listed below, following the Big Band listing. Their interpretation of the title track contains all the drama and suspense originally intended, and transitions evenly to a sweet songscape. Equally fascinating, "Eclipse" features Adam Rogers' classical guitar and Michael Rabinowitz's exciting bassoon as solo voices. Elvis Costello adds lyrics to "Invisible Lady" alongside the evocative trombone interlude voice of Conrad Herwig. The orchestra has a few timbres to offer that the big band doesn't. Both, however, capture the moods Mingus intended and deliver them in an entirely stimulating manner. This is a sampling of the love songs Mingus wrote througout his lifetime. They contain some of the emotion and all of the beauty. As solo voices elected to represent the music, few can compare to saxophonists Seamus Blake, Alex Foster & Ronnie Cuber, trumpeters Kenny Rampton & Alex Sipiagin and trombonists Herwig & Ku-umba Frank Lacy. Music that had been lying undiscovered in Mingus' archives, music that he composed in the last years of his life while paralyzed, and music that the composer interpreted many decades ago with audiences like us in mind comes together on this latest album. The first half of the extended work, "Black Saint and the Sinner Lady," closes out the program. Impressionism that depicts various dancers and related scenery, the music reminds us how meters changed and moods varied in quick succession. Oh yeah. It's a thrill every time out, and the Mingus Big Band has created yet another stellar tribute to the master.
Track Listing: Love is a Dangerous Necessity; Noon Night; Tonight at Noon; Eclipse; Invisible Lady; Passions of a Woman Loved; Sweet Sucker Dance; Devil Woman; Love's Fury; Black Saint and the Sinner Lady.
Personnel: Mingus Big Band: Kenny Rampton, Earl Gardner, Randy Brecker, Alex Sipiagin, Jeremy Pelt- trumpet; Craig Handy, John Stubblefield, Seamus Blake, Wayne Escoffery- tenor saxophone; Alex Foster- alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, clarinet; Vincent Herring- alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Jaleel Shaw- alto saxophone; Ronnie Cuber- baritone saxophone; Conrad Herwig- trombone; Ku-umba Frank Lacy- trombone, vocal; Dave Taylor- bass trombone, tuba; Earl McIntyre- trombone, bass trombone, tuba; Boris Kozlov, Andy McKee- bass; David Kikoski- piano; Johnathan Blake- drums, tambourine. Charles Mingus Orchestra: Michael Rabinowitz- bassoon; Douglas Yates- bass clarinet; Robert Routch- French horn; Adam Rogers- guitar; Seamus Blake- soprano saxophone; Alex Foster- alto saxophone; Scott Robinson- flute; Alex Sipiagin- trumpet; Conrad Herwig- trombone; David Kikoski- piano; Boris Kozlov- bass; Jeff "Tain" Watts- drums; Elvis Costello- vocal.