Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
328

Andy Summers: Peggy's Blue Skylight

Todd S. Jenkins By

Sign in to view read count Views
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


CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
[no cover]
First You Build A...
CBS/Sony
2007
buy
[no cover]
Guitar
CBS/Sony
2006
buy
The X Tracks
The X Tracks
Fuel 2000 Records
2005
buy
[no cover]
Splendid Brazil
CBS/Sony
2005
buy
[no cover]
Peggy's Blue Sunlight
CBS/Sony
2004
buy
[no cover]
The X-Tracks
CBS/Sony
2004
buy
Pat Metheny Pat Metheny
guitar
Bill Frisell Bill Frisell
guitar
John Scofield John Scofield
guitar
Bill Bruford Bill Bruford
drums
Jim Hall Jim Hall
guitar
Gary Burton Gary Burton
vibraphone

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.