Saturday, May 1, 2010

Charles Mingus - The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963)

Probably my favorite jazz record of all-time; either this or A Love Supreme depending on what kind of mood I'm in. This is actually a lot more than just straight jazz, and if you've never heard this one your ears probably hate you in advance. It's an album that sits at the crossroads between the avant-garde, big band music and that whole Third Stream movement that incorporated classical elements into free jazz by using traditional classical instrumentation (an eleven-piece "orchestra" performed this record) by experimenting and improvising, definitely not trademarks of classical music.

Charles Mingus was at the forefront of this school of thought, his friend Gunther Schuller coined the term after Mingus' 1955 record Jazzical Moods. Here on The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, Charlie took it a step further than ever before; re-imagining this suite as a free jazz-classical ballet piece to actually be performed by dancers (it never was because it was considered too emotionally intense!).

This is why Mingus is the greatest composer in the history of modern music; he could swing like Bird and Ellington, but he had Mozart and Beethoven in his blood...


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