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4.8 out of 5 stars23
4.8 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 September 2012
This 1963 recording by Charles Mingus and his 11-piece ensemble is a magnificent 'concept album' (if I dare use that term), providing, along with John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, my favourite (jazz) examples of this phenomenon. However, whilst Mingus and Coltrane's albums might have common approaches in the use of unifying themes, there the similarity ends, as Coltrane's sparser quartet sound is pretty much the antithesis of Mingus' highly interwoven masterpiece, which draws heavily on the influences of earlier big band jazz (in particular, Mingus' hero Duke Ellington), gospel, blues and, even, classical music.

Whilst the album has many superbly lyrical and melodic themes which recur throughout its six musical Modes (grouped into four album tracks), for me, it is the dynamism and integration of the playing, leading to its overall impression as a single musical piece that set The Black Saint And Sinner Lady apart from pretty much all other jazz (and most other musical) recordings. Underlying the entire recording are Mingus' impassioned themes of minority oppression, revolt, redemption, freedom and love, which together convey the essence that this is music that must not only be listened to, but also deeply felt.

It really is difficult to know where to start in terms of the performances of Mingus assembled musicians, many of whom, despite being well-established sidemen with other leading jazz players, never achieved notoriety as bandleaders. Suffice to say, the playing on the album never falters and I would only pick out Don Butterfield's amazing contrabass trombone and tuba, which provide much of the music's underlying, throbbing rhythm, the exquisite trumpet playing of Rolf Ericson and Richard Williams, whose sound is used to mimic (with remarkable accuracy) the plaintive cries of the oppressed, and the vibrant drumming of Dannie Richmond, who, along with Elvin Jones - another good choice - was Mingus' favoured beatman.

An essential recording.
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on 7 July 2008
Forgive the tital, but how exactly do I define an album such as this, or indeed an artist like Mingus? This is the most undoubted five-star I have ever given, because, unlike most art, which either seems clear and gives you a good impression, or seems clear but gives you a banal impression, this does not seem clear ( in any of the multiple meanings of the term) , but gives you a transcendentally impressed feeling afterwards.
Certainly, it does seem quite gloomy. The title makes me think of some sort of lost scripture, with depressing implications for the fate of mankind, and the music is a series of movements circulating around the theme of damnation and torture in chains. The sounds which emerge: thundering, percussive drums, screaming brass, heavy piano, and frankly tempestuous bass from Mingus. The one sound that redeems: the guitar. We feel as if this one voice holds the key to the redemption of the Black Saint and his Sinner Lady, and yet somehow he is still bound down in chains by a clever clash between the alternating keys of the two sections- the guitar and the rest of the orchestra.
If I gave you one reason to buy it, i would say that it is the centre of Mingus's canon, and indeed, the rest of the over 17000 LPs that Impulse released in its lifetime. In its cryptic quality, it fulfils some essentia l sensory longing for coherence. In 1966, when this was recorded, Charles Mingus was undergoing, according to his Biography, some more extensive therapy for his nervous disorder. I assure you that his genius has never been as apparent as on this record, where he fights against the worldly oppression which at the same time represents his natural condition. And yet, one feels that this is the unfulfilment of his wishes.
A final note, and one which every reviewer notes when dealing with this album: his psychiatrist wrote the liner notes. I think just that fact does not need explaining, and neither ( although I have hypocritically attempted to do so!) does his music. "Listen and behold the beautiful Black Mirical". Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
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on 28 April 2001
This is a real gem. I think Mingus is severely under-rated as an arranger and genius composer. The stuff on here takes some beating, it has to be said. This will stand thousands of repeat plays, and there will always be surprises, while at the same time you will love growning familiar with it. You can't do without this, or at least some quality Mingus: try also 'Mingus plays piano' for something a bit different.
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on 14 April 2005
I must admit that there are a fair few composers in jazz that I would put at the top of my list before Charles Mingus, (think Ellington, Nichols, Monk, Shorter, Hill, etc) yet there cannot be any more exciting opening than "Track A - Solo Dancer" on "The Black Saint and the sinner lady. " Stoked by the drums of Danny Richmond, the band swirls around the grumbling tones of the tuba in a kaleidoscope of colours, the time signatures constantly shifting before a piercing soprano solo rounds things off, pursued by the growling brass. This is nothing short of incredible.
More than any other recording, this offering demonstrates the bassist's love of the music of Duke Ellington - indeed Rolf Ericson and Quentin Jackson played for the master at one time or the other. Elsewhere, Charlie Mariano's alto evokes Johnny Hodges. The second movement is even more bizarre, an over-blown 1940's big band ballad ( a very strong theme, this one) that morphs into a barbaric vamp on one chord. Jackson's "Tricky Sam" influenced muted trombone is a highlight here - the only way to play the instrument to my ears. After this, there is a bit of flamenco incongruously thrown in. Listening to this over and over again, it becomes impossible to calculate what was written and was improvised. What is certain , is that this music must have taken alot of energy to perform and the rendition of the composition is brilliant, all the musicians seeming determined to ensure it's success and having huge belief in the music.
Here was a composer who was familliar with the whole history of jazz and not ashamed to employ earlier devices such as the Ellingtonesque trumpets and trombone to add richness to the work.
As with much of Mingus's music, there a few dull moments, particularly in the last movement and the composition as a whole could have done with a few more themes rather than the opening one that is repacitulated on many occasions. However, this is rather curmudgeonly as, after "Ah, um", this is Charles Mingus's greatest recording.
In conclusion , this is another essential purchase for a serious jazz collection.
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This is not an easy record to listen to. I've had my copy nigh on twenty years, and although I don't play it incessantly, I do play it from time to time and it's taken time to come to terms with it. Mingus isn't easy, full stop, but this is his most demanding work and apparently one that he himself always rated highly.
Recorded in 1963 by an eleven piece band (there sounds more musicians) this is music for a modern ballet (never performed as far as my researches show). The music is extremely sensuous and emotional, indeed reading the subtitles to the six dances the concept covers all human emotion from anger and afression through to love and physical embraces (sexual encounters?). Listening carefully one hears all manner of themes, styles, influences, rhythms, extracts, etc. The third dance has much of the flavour of "Tijuana Moods" for example.
The best advice I have is to abandon any preconceived ideas about music and let the music take you along with it. It's an emotional roller coaster. Turn the lights down and go with the flow.
This is a masterpiece!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 April 2015
The great bassist/composer/bandleader Charles Mingus(1922-79) recorded what is generally acknowledged as his masterpiece in New York on January 20, 1963.
With Mingus(bass & piano) were Rolf Ericson, Richard Williams(trumpets); Quentin Jackson(trombone); Don Butterfield(tuba); Jerome Richardson(soprano sax, baritone sax, flute); Dick Hafer(tenor sax, flute); Charlie Mariano(alto sax); Jaki Byard(piano); Jay Berliner(guitar) & Dannie Richmond(drums).
Described by Mingus as ballet music the six movements are intense, turbulent and richly textured with astonishingly powerful solos especially from Charlie Mariano(dubbed on later), Spanish guitarist Jay Berliner and soprano saxophonist Jerome Richardson.
'The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady' is a unique listening experience and one of the absolute classics of modern jazz.
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on 1 February 2002
40 minutes of the purest, most organic music imaginable. This disc defies all labels - although the inspiration of a jazz musician, such is Mingus's genius that other tags, such as symphonic, tone poem, flamenco or indeed chamber would indeed be equally applicable. This is a disc to place in your collection alongside The White Album,The Ring Cycle or Beethoven's ninth.
It really is that good.
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on 10 December 2015
Im new to jazz, popping this in and played loud was mind blowing, sort of like seeing colour for the first time, incredible production and scope, it just sounds amazing, I cant waffle on intellectually about what Charles Mignus was trying to say or do, I don't know, it just sounds extraordinary..
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on 22 January 2012
Buy this album!!!!ITS MAD!!!!!plain mad.....Turn up the volume the first time you ever hear it you'll never forget the listening experience...If you do not hear : you have not lived.
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on 9 January 2012
Mingus is an acquired taste and Black Saint and the Sinner Lady is no exception. Bought this for my husband who is a real Mingus fan and has wanted this for a long time but hadn't been able to find it locally. Thanks Amazon. Listened to it with him and it's growing on me, too.
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