Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

557

Charles Mingus: The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady

Robert Spencer By

Sign in to view read count
Some Mingus albums are like a tremendous three-ring circus. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be struck with awe and delight. The music is absorbing, intense, harrowing, beautiful. Drop everything and run to the show, and don’t expect to get anything else done at the same time: this is about as far from background music as it gets. A great Mingus album is a totally involving experience. This is especially true of one of the only jazz albums to have liner notes written by a clinical psychologist: The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. Mingus chimes in with a peroration of his own, too, including, "I feel no need to explain any further the music herewith other than to say throw all other records of mine away except maybe one other [unnamed]." Anyone tempted to take this advice should be committed to the observation ward at Bellevue Mingus graced with his presence not long before making this record, but the music itself deservedly holds its creator’s high estimation.

The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady is a six-part suite (four CD tracks) recorded in 1963. Impulse has given it the 20-bit treatment; few recordings have been more deserving. This suite is a feast of virtuoso performances, shifting moods and textures, and detailed background work by Mingus’ eleven-piece band. Jerome Richardson is heard to great effect on baritone sax near the beginning of the work; he contributes some beautifully supportive flute (with Dick Hafer) and soprano elsewhere. Quentin Jackson’s trombone work is arresting, and the other hornmen (Rolf Ericson and Richard Williams on trumpets, Don Butterfield on tuba, Hafer on tenor sax as well as flute) are excellent. But the pervasive voice of the entire piece is Charlie Mariano on alto sax. Mariano’s playing is wrenchingly emotional and evocative, conveying pathos, fervor, and undying conviction. But as wonderful as Mariano’s work is here, this is very much a group effort. Especially in the last three sections (CD track four) of the piece, this is music of group interaction. Solo voices emerge from the welter and are drawn back into it. Occasionally the ferocity of each voice clamoring with the others reaches such a furious intensity that it would take just one more step for it to reach the world of the medium-sized group free jazz that would be recorded not long after this album: Albert Ayler’s New York Eye and Ear Control, Coltrane’s Ascension, etc. Then in an instant the ensemble stops on a dime with a unison statement executed with high-energy precision. It is an extraordinary thing to hear.

The rest of the ensemble includes Mingus on bass and, briefly, piano; Jaki Byard on piano; Jay Berliner with a marvelous flamenco guitar bit; and the incomparable Dannie Richmond on drums. This is a masterwork that should be part of any jazz collection, except perhaps of those listeners who prefer that music not challenge, inspire, and move them.


Title: The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady | Year Released: 1997 | Record Label: Impulse!

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read World Gardens CD/LP/Track Review
World Gardens
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 14, 2018
Read Henry II CD/LP/Track Review
Henry II
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 14, 2018
Read Conference Of The Mat/ts CD/LP/Track Review
Conference Of The Mat/ts
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2018
Read Hidden Treasures Vol. 1, Monday Nights CD/LP/Track Review
Hidden Treasures Vol. 1, Monday Nights
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 14, 2018
Read Âme Sèche CD/LP/Track Review
Âme Sèche
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 14, 2018
Read Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review
Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard
by Doug Collette
Published: December 13, 2018
Read "Your Queen Is A Reptile" CD/LP/Track Review Your Queen Is A Reptile
by Chris May
Published: February 21, 2018
Read "From Beyond" CD/LP/Track Review From Beyond
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 16, 2018
Read "Atody Man" CD/LP/Track Review Atody Man
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 27, 2018
Read "New Hymn To Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review New Hymn To Freedom
by Gareth Thompson
Published: August 23, 2018
Read "Lighthouse" CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Zebres" CD/LP/Track Review Zebres
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 27, 2018