124

Kevin Mahogany: Pussy Cat Dues

By

Sign in to view read count
Not since the 1979 effort of Joni Mitchell has a top vocalist taken on the daunting task of recording the music of Charles Mingus. In 1995, Kevin Mahogany was invited by the Cologne-based Bill Dobbins-directed WDR big band (Westdeutscher Rundfunk) to participate in live concert of Mingus music. For this important musical event, Mahogany is joined by ex-Mingus compatriots, alto saxophonist Charles McPherson and trombonist Jimmy Knepper, as well as the big band. Although the concert took place in 1995, it wasn't until July of 2000 that the album was released. After a listen, it's a shame the moguls of the record industry took their time in releasing it.

Listening to Mingus allows one to sample just about everything on the jazz menu. Mingus looked everywhere for his inspiration as he composed some of the most multifaceted music in jazz. It incorporates the blues, free jazz, swing, bop and, of course, reflects the influence of his idol Duke Ellington. Mahogany's command of vocal techniques combined with his visceral feel for the music makes this album the vocalist's best effort to date The task is eased considerably by the way Dobbin crafted his orchestrations to complement Mahogany's approach this music. Despite the presence of this high powered, well-oiled big band, at no time is Mahogany drowned out - quite an achievement. Knepper's smoothed and sometimes clipped toned trombone is heard to excellent advantage on Eclipse as he and McPherson trade choruses on Reincarnation of a Love Bird. Knepper worked with Mingus from 1957 to 1962 and McPherson played for him in 1965. So they are no strangers to the idiosyncracies of Mingus music.

For me the highlight of the session is the four song medley which shows off the distinct flavor of the bassist's compositions. Boogie Stop Shuffle, featuring McPherson's alto, is a swinging tribute to bop. Jelly Roll honors the genius of Jelly Roll Morton while perhaps his most famous piece of music, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, remains a fervent musical eulogy to Lester Young. While Kevin Mahogany does a couple of choruses on that tune along with some wordless vocalizing on Better Git Hit in Your Soul, the medley is pretty much the property of MacPherson, Knepper and the big band. WDR bassist and American expatriate John Goldsby puts on the mantle of Charles Mingus as he plays a lengthy, intricate and compelling bass solo.

Pussy Cat Dues is a completely fulfilling 55 minutes of music. When the Grammy nominations for 2000 are being contemplated, I urge this one be looked at long and hard.

Tracks:Eclipse; Pussy Cat Dues; Portrait; Reincarnation of a Love Bird; Mingus Medley: Boogie Stop Shuffle, Jelly Roll, Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat, Better Git Hit in Your Soul; Tonight at Noon

Personnel: Kevin Mahogany - Vocals; Charles McPherson - Alto Saxophone; Jimmy Knepper - Trombone; Dennis Mackrel - Drums; WDR Big Band: Bill Dobbins - Director; Andy Haderer, Rob Bruynen, Klaus Osterloh, Rick Kiefer, John Marshall - Trumpet; Dave Horfer, George Maus, Bernt Laukamp, Peter Feil - Trombone; Heiner Wiberny, Harald Rosenstein - Alto Saxophone; Olivier Peters, Rolf R

| Record Label: Enja Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Swallowed by the New" CD/LP/Track Review Swallowed by the New
by Doug Collette
Published: November 5, 2016
Read "Up and Coming" CD/LP/Track Review Up and Coming
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 30, 2017
Read "Return" CD/LP/Track Review Return
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 3, 2016
Read "Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival
by John Sharpe
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Eight Track II" CD/LP/Track Review Eight Track II
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 1, 2016
Read "Eight Track II" CD/LP/Track Review Eight Track II
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 4, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!