Friday, August 26, 2011

#22 Charles Mingus-The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady


Artist: Charles Mingus
Album: The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady
Label: GRP
Year: 1963

As Mingus's career progressed, his scope and the overall volume of his work (in terms of just LARGE-ness) constantly increased. Earlier works like The Clown featured relatively small groups. Though albums like Blues And Roots and Mingus Plays Piano would be examples of him returning to his "roots," there is a definite upswing of players on his albums throughout his career (culminating in the likes of Let My Children Hear My Music). His 1963 album, composed as a ballet, is one of the high points of his career and in all of jazz history as well.
No other Mingus album, and certainly few in jazz history, benefit from sequencing and playing-off-itself in a way this does. It's strength lies in the fact that while a pretty sizable ensemble performed the album, and while it's scope is pretty large and ambitious, it still feels intensely personal. Volume in records tends to reduce intimacy, but that's not the case here.
The players on the album are out of this world: Jaki Byard, Richard Williams, along with Mingus are just a few of the notable players. In addition, Jay Berliner's acoustic guitar work is possibly the highlight of the record, personally.
I know this isn't a large review, or even that detailed. But it's a record whose magnificence must be experienced. While the whole thing is built around one theme, it never grows monotonous and constantly brings surprises. One of the finest records of the 1960s and a landmark jazz record.

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