Sign up for our free newsletter
I’m not qualified to work for the Psychic Friends Network, but I think it’s safe to say that the great bassist/pianist/composer Charles Mingus would find little to complain about in the Mingus Big Band’s interpretations of nine well-known (“Reincarnation of a Lovebird”) and not-so-well-known (“Hog Callin’ Blues”) Mingus titles. Unlike any number of previously issued collections of Mingus works, the New York-based ensemble’s entry captures the passion, swing, lyricism, and individuality so crucial to readings of his material. This interpretative gift is especially—and delightfully—evident on the aforementioned “Blues,” during which tenor saxophonist John Stubblefield unleashes heart-shivering cries and long, lusty blue notes. It can also be heard during alto saxophonist Steve Slagle’s cascading contributions to “Noon Night/Celia Medley”—a track on which trombonist Jamal Haynes’ vocals mesh with Mingus’ patented now-sighing, now-excoriating brass and reed voicings.