16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The best album ever made?,
This review is from: Epitaph (Audio CD)
Of course it's not, merely a personal favorite - but one which I cannot recommend highly enough.
Two things you should bear in mind, though - firstly, this is not the Mingus of `Blues And Roots' and `Ah Um', not the Mingus of raw blues/gospel-inflected small-group jazz. Rather this is the Mingus of `Pre-Bird' and `The Black Saint' - the progressive large-ensemble composer who speaks a language as much influenced by classical music and the jazz avant-garde of the '60s as by Duke Ellington and Gil Evans.
Secondly, Charles Mingus himself does not perform on this disc - it is a posthumous project that essentially reconstructs, completes, and improves upon, his infamous Town Hall Concert of 1962 (Epitaph being the overall name of the suite he intended to record there).
Mingus scholars will recognise some of the material from the aforementioned Town Hall Concert, the Debut recordings and the aforementioned studio albums (e.g `Noon Night' is a version of `Nouroog' and `Ballad[In Other Words]' contains a key theme from 'The Black Saint''s second side) - but there's plenty they won't have heard, and the familiar material may confound their expectations.
There's simply too much to discuss about the orchestration, the unorthodox blend of improvisation and arrangement (especially in the mind-boggling expanded version of `The Chill Of Death'), the actual solos, Gunther Schuller's awesome work reconstructing the music from often-illegible scores...
Let me suggest you play the samples of `Wolverine Blues' (adapted from the Jelly Roll Morton tune of the same name) and then `The Children's Hour Of Dream' (which may remind some listeners of Frank Zappa's orchestral writing): you'll get an idea of the sheer scope of Mingus's ambition here.
Soloists include Wynton Marsalis, Bobby Watson, George Adams, Britt Woodman, Urbie Green, Jack Walrath, John Hicks, John Handy and Michael Rambinowitz.