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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 4 December 2011
The 2-on-1 much-appreciated Impulse reissues provides us with two magnificent Mingus albums at a bargain price. The music is marvellous. Reviewing these sets is, as Mingus says, "I wrote the music for dancing and listening". This is from the liner notes of 'The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady', followed by, as for reviewing the music ," I'll Leave that to----Doctor Pollock", (Mingus's clinical psychologist.)

'The Black Saint and Sinner Lady' is a formidable record. Regarded by many as a masterpiece. Released in 1963. A musical venture into jazz concerto. Organised, scripted yet sounding improvised in passages. A tribute to Ellington's influence ,but this is Mingus. A six part suite. Inspired by blues and gospel influences that burst through the ensemble work. A word for Charles Mariano on alto. His contribution speaks the thoughts of Mingus. Emotional and exciting (Modes DEF)especially. Jay Berliner's Spanish guitar solo (written by Mingus) is superb. There are other solo moments, not least the leader on piano tinkering with Jaki Byard, but from Rolf Ericson and Richard Williams on trumpets, and Jerome Richardson on soprano. Driven by Danny Richmond's drumming. An emotionally charged brilliant record in superb sound. Essential.

'Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus': From the above 1963 session plus. Starting with a stormy blues opener 'II B S' with an oblique title, it is a fast rendering of 'Haitian Love Song' featuring strong performances from Jaki Byard (p),Dolphy and Booker Ervin (ts) furiously chasing each other. 'Celia' (a former wife of Mingus) and 'I X Love' are features for the underacclaimed Charles Mariano on alto sax playing with great sensitivity. 'Mood Indigo' contains a thoughtful bass solo. 'Theme For Lester Young' is a working of 'Goodbye Pork Pie Hat' again with the sensitivity of Ervin and Dolphy. 'Better Get Hit in Yo' Soul' is, according to the notes, of 'no religious significance'. Played at a faster tempo than on 'Ah Um', the spontaneity of the ensemble work is there with hectic group improvisations.. 'Hora decubitus' ('At Bedtime') was Mingus's wish to swing. With soloists of the calibre of Ervin, Dolphy, Williams this produces a forceful improvisional piece of ensemble. Jaki Byard is glorious throughout.
A brilliant Impulse pairing of Mingus in a larger group setting. The ensemble work shows off the organisational skills of Mingus but allows for the individualities of the star members to shine through. Thoroughly recommended. More to come, hopefully.
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Not only was Mingus a phenomenal bassist but an inspirational bandleader ~ up there with Ellington, Basie & Blakey I'd say ~ whose compositions combine structural innovation with hefty nods to tradition. For example, the long fourth section of The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady on this musically rich, compendious disc sounds like a New Orleans street parade gone crazy.
Black Saint {from 1963} is a forty-minute suite that is so full of ideas and great playing ~ that really swings! ~ it can feel like the finest album Mingus made. With the flamboyant Charlie Mariano on alto sax, Mingus stalwart Jaki Byard on piano, ever-loyal Dannie Richmond on drums, and other luminaries, it's certainly a masterpiece, and essential for any fan of Mingus or of jazz music.
Mingus x 5 {from 1964} is a touch more conventional, but only because it consists of seven distinct numbers. The musical content is as rich and varied as ever, with a bigger band that includes Booker Ervin and the great Eric Dolphy on saxes and flute.
There are some lovely tracks on this one ~ try I X Love, a languorous, sinuous ballad, or the engaging Celia, or a nicely moody reading of Ellington's Mood Indigo.
We also get two Mingus stanbys: Better Get Hit In Yo' Soul, and Theme For Lester Young, each worth the price of admission alone.
The booklet notes are illegible without a magnifying glass ~ why do record companies do this? ~ but the track listings are clear, and the music ~ well, the music is thrilling.

Glorious.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 21 April 2015
This excellent CD reissue combines two superb 1963 LPs by the great bassist/composer/bandleader Charles Mingus(1922-79).
Tracks 1-4('The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady') is generally acknowledged as his masterpiece, recorded 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, oboe); 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.
Tracks 5-11('Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus') were recorded in New York on January 20 & September 20, 1963.
'I X Love'(an updating of 'Duke's Choice') and 'Celia'(from Mingus's 1957 'East Coasting' album) were from the same session that produced the above masterpiece with the same personnel.
The remaining tracks are 'II B.S.'(aka 'Haitian Fight Song'), 'Theme For Lester Young'(aka 'Goodbye Pork Pie Hat'), 'Hora Decubitus'(aka 'E's Flat, Ah's Flat Too'), 'Better Get Hit in Yo' Soul' and Duke Ellington's 'Mood Indigo'.
With Mingus(bass) were Eddie Preston, Richard Williams(trumpets); Britt Woodman(trombone); Don Butterfield(tuba); Jerome Richardson(soprano sax, baritone sax, flute); Dick Hafer(tenor sax, clarinet, flute); Booker Ervin(tenor sax); Eric Dolphy(alto sax, flute); Jaki Byard(piano) & Walter Perkins(drums).
Both of these magnificent albums contain plenty of inspired playing and this uncommonly fiery and passionate music still sounds wonderul over 50 years later.
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on 26 June 2013
I echo most of the comments in the previous review. This set is extremely good value, comprising two very good sessions at a low price. One minor gripe is that the sleeve notes consist of copies of the original notes reduced in size to such an extent that the old and failing amongst us can't really read them. So, any comments I may have in this review may be disproved by what is in the sleeve notes but I wouldn't know that.
'The Black Saint' is a major six part work, very highly praised when it first came out, played by an eleven piece band, bigger than Mingus' earlier bands. It is fairly intensively scored, with a thick almost lush sound from the saxophones. It does have some similarity to earlier Mingus works such as 'Mingus Ah Um'. What I find disconcerting is the much closer similarity it has to Ellington. Charlie Mariano, the lead alto, takes the Hodges role and Jerome Richardson, on baritone, is a ringer for Carney. The trombone, strongly featured as an ensemble voice, is Quentin Jackson, a genuine and highly individual Ellington voice. At times the band sounds almost a pastiche. That's not to say it's not good. It is. The band has Mingus' usual driving rhythm and the soloists are all excellent. Mariano, extensively featured, is astonishing, far removed from his normal slightly cerebral style, and Richardson, not always everybody's favourite soloist, is of the highest quality on both soprano and baritone. There is good piano work , presumably mainly from Jaki Byard, though Mingus' own piano work is quite similar, so I may be wrong on that, and some effective trumpet solos, which sound to be mainly from Richard Williams.
'Mingus, Mingus' etc is more what one expects. When this first came out it wasn't particularly highly considered. I disagree. Two tunes, 'I X Love' and 'Celia' are by the same band as the Black Saint' session but the five remaining tunes are by a slightly different band with the notable addition of Eric Dolphy and Booker Ervin. Both solo well in their unique styles and Ervin in particular dominates his tracks. You almost have to buy the disc for him alone. Walter Perkins replaces Dannie Richmond on drums but with absolutely no loss in power or drive. A very fine seesion indeed and well up to the standard of Mingus' earlier work.
So, overall, a slightly mixed bag, but pretty good. It's just that I prefer my Mingus being Mingus.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 October 2013
Five MASTERPIECE Stars, but easily deserves six stars! Essential Charles Mingus performances on an Impulse "2-on-1" CD! In a career of many great recorded performances, these two performances by volcanic, iconoclastic composer, arranger, pianist, and über bassist Charles Mingus were especially magnificent, using essentially the same small but potent all-star orchestra. Mingus was riding high in his career and these two Impulse recordings are testaments to his artistry, his ability to find key musicians at significant moments in his compositional career and meld them into cohesive groups, driving them along with his vocal leadership, his bass playing, and longtime battery-mate Dannie Richmond's drums. Mingus spotlighted alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano as his muse on both of these performances and Mariano responds magnificently as lead voice in particular on "The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady" which is, perhaps, Mingus' most thematic and personal work, clearly a 'cut above' even the best of Mingus' work such as "Mingus Ah Um", "Tijuana Moods", "Mingus Dynasty", "Mingus at Monterey" and so on.

Complex with dissonance and wild rhythmic swings on "The Black Saint..." , Mingus makes the group of Rolf Ericson and Richard Williams on trumpets, Quentin Jackson on trombone, Don Butterfield on tuba, Jerome Richardson on soprano sax, baritone sax, and flute, Dick Hafer on tenor sax and flute, Jackie Byard on piano, Jay Berliner on guitar, stablemate Richmond on drums, Mariano on alto sax, and Mingus on bass (and I'm positive he's on the spectacular piano interlude on "Track C-Group Dancers") seem to be a much larger orchestra. "Track A Solo Dancer" establishes the main theme from Mariano and a great Richardson soprano solo riding a wild, surging orchestral vamp. Track B has "Butter" Jackson making the trombone sound very human and vulnerable. Track C introduces spanish guitar interludes and swirling, stabbing trumpet flourishes, all culminating in "Mode F-Group and Solo Dance" as this one of Mingus' group parts roars along like a freight train leaving the station until Mariano reels in the entire proceeding. This is a stimulating, almost exhausting, and enjoyable experience unlike any other in jazz history, while revealing that Mingus has molded his Ellington roots into something highly personal. "Mingus, Mingus...." is more of a blowing session with highly structured, very attractive arrangements, and the high points are the surging dense orchestra layers of "II BS" (aka "Haitian Fight Song"), Mariano's lusty alto on "I X Love", rich, swinging Ellington illusions on "Mood Indigo" and a hard-swinging "Hora Decubitis" (which has altoist Eric Dolphy as surprise guest, rising to solo out of the musical maelstrom). But best of all is a magnificent performance of "Celia" with a very emotional Mariano and the group making Mingus proud, though the song's main sections and interludes. These performances are mesmerizing, even overpowering at times, in their beauty, elegance, hipness, and overall swinging artistry and are great testaments to Hall of Fame composer, bassist, pianist, and leader Charles Mingus. Two for the ages! My Highest Recommendation! Five AWESOME Stars! (11 tracks).
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