Celebrating Mingus 100 review – awe-inspiring tribute to a jazz genius | Music
Jthe centenary year of the birth of Charles Mingus deserves to be celebrated wherever creative music thrives, not just in the jazz world which has celebrated him since the 1940s. LA-raised original rocked the insularity of jazz with a repertoire ranging from New Orleans street-struts to hard-swing blues and bebop, jazz/classical splicings of Stravinsky, Bartók and Duke Ellington and played and themes spoken words echoing his campaign for civil rights.
Mingus also urged every artist he met to be uncompromisingly themselves – even if that meant his own improvisational lineups could twist his highly crafted materials into unpredictable forms. Over the years, this legacy has galvanized bands from South Africa’s Brotherhood of Breath, the Charlie Haden and Carla Bley Liberation Music Orchestra, the UK’s Loose Tubes and many more.
Joining this year’s anniversary releases – including the jubilant if sometimes tattered trio from 1957, Mingus Three on Rhino/Parlophone, and Ronnie Scott’s The Lost Album on Resonance – Celebrating Mingus 100, a concert on April 13 at the Berlin Philharmonic recorded by a nonet to mark the composer’s centenary. Mingus Big Band pianist Danny Grissett and American drum star Gregory Hutchinson join forces with European figures such as Austrian bassist Georg Breinschmid, fiery young German viola player Jakob Manz and poetic French singer Camille Bertault.
Breinschmid’s muscular pizzicato aptly prefaces the opening Jelly Roll, a hypnotically sultry set opening Goodbye Pork Pie Hat is developed in Bertault’s slightly shimmering high tones, and the huge standouts are the multi-themed boogie stop shuffle and an exultant stampede on Better Git Hit in your soul. Mingus’ captivating dark or angry moods are sometimes sacrificed to a showy timidity, but nonetheless this is an homage explicitly driven by expertise, gratitude and awe.
Also released this month
sax legend Charles Lloyd launches a trilogy of trio sets through the fall, with guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan joining him on the first – Chapel (Blue Note), a tightly tuned jazz/folk communion in a San Antonio church.
Highly regarded African-American drummer/composer Tyshawn Sorey brings his vast contemporary musical imagination to the swing repertoire of Horace Silver, Duke Ellington and others on the trio Mesmerism (Pi Recordings/Bandcamp).
German Jazz Artist of the Year 2022 saxophonist Charlotte Greve shows how much her 12-year-old Lisbeth Quartet came in its chamber musical confluence of whispering melancholy, minimalism, outbursts of improvisation and effortless collective interaction on Release (Intakt).