on 11 November 2005
This is one of Mingus' best albums and is unusual in several respects. Most notably Mingus plays piano, and the roaring insistent passages as well as soft comping are hugely effective. The three horns (Booker Ervin and Roland Kirk on sax, Jimmy Knepper on trombone) are powerful and soul stirring. In addition, Mingus' singing/vocalizing punctuate the sounds in a manner similar to drums and bass. For example, the opening "Hog Callin' Blues" begins with a righteously vocalized bop riff by Mingus, and is accompanied by fiery, sometimes dissonant sax work by the great Roland Kirk. The blues similarly colors many songs, but really, Mingus adds his imprimatur to all musical influences.
Ecclusiastics is a blues (well, a Mingus blues) with Mingus' prayer-like bop vocals and piano adding a spiritual dimension. This song is simply beautiful; I'd love to hear this sometime as an orchestral piece! The group shifts from soothing, Ellingtonian strains to buoyant noise in seconds; it is a beautifully realized composition.
"Oh Lord, Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb on Me" is another musical prayer (with Mingus' famous line "don't let them drop it, stop it, bebop it"). And "Eat that Chicken" is, well, unlike anything: A rollicking song about "eating chicken," which is both farcical and a deeply felt appreciation of appetitive delights. It's a different number alright, but essentially spiritual and akin to a joyous gospel. Passions of a Man is a total surrealistic delight, with Mingus intoning Spanish (or is it a mixture of Spanish and Mingus-ese?) and shouts of "Viva!" set against the group's abstract "Latin." I don't know with what it compares, but it is a daring delight! The Atlantic re-release adds three songs from the 1964 "Tonight at Noon." These are very good, particularly the noirish "Invisible Lady, and are more on the Ellington side of the spectrum, featuring lush arrangements and excellent (but relatively more conventional) sax solos. If you can't get the re-release, you'll still have the essentials of "Oh Yeah."
I highly recommend this to all jazz fans, but it's an essential addition for Mingus fans. The bebop, blues, and spiritual idioms, Mingus' vocal and pianistic efforts, and the brash raucous notes alternating with orchestral statements are combined in an inspired, inspiring masterpiece.
Give this one 12 stars! Hot hot hot record! You won't ever find music more alive then this, if you can sit down while Hog callin blues gets going then you're ready for the crypt. Genius genius genius! Stop it! Bebop it! My god this music is almost obscene in it's brilliance and vitality, at times the ecstasy approaches Klezmer territory, at others it's just sooooo blue that no one else should be allowed by law to even try to play the style after 1962. Filled with all the madness and beauty expected from Mingus, it just goes somewhere else. Rock musicians such as Zappa and Beefheart spent their entire careers trying to capture this feel and never even got close, not really even worth mentioning, I only do so in the event you are a rock fan and don't know this music, so buy this and hear the real deal. Still guranteed to scare the elderly, inspire you to holler and commit various acts of social irresponsibility, while still flooring anyone with musically sensitive ears. Glorious glorious music.
This is quite a group and is easily my favorite of the Mingus recordings I have heard. There are quite a few "mingus's" out there, and this is bluesy, soulful one. The record opens up with 2 masterpieces "Hog Callin Blues", and "Devil Woman". "Devil Woman" features great vocals by Mingus, and a great texas blues solo by Booker Ervin. "Hog Callin Blues" is a Roland Kirk showcase, and other than Duke Ellington, Kirk is my favorite jazz musician. The rest of the record, is a mixed bag of the fast walleresque "Eat That Chicken", the dark "Wham Bam" and the flat out dated and wierd "Passions of a Man". Its just to bad this is only recording of this group.
This is probably my favorite Mingus release, even though "Mingus Ah Um" and "The Black Saint & the Sinner Lady" are probably technically superior (not to mention more accesible). As the title stated, this will please fans of Captain Beefheart and Screamin' Jay Hawkins as much as it will Mingus fans. The factor that makes this unique among his albums is his vocals - yes he sings! Mingus was always known for choosing offbeat song titles ("Better Get Hit In 'Yo Soul", "Orange Was the Color of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk"), but his lyrics are intensly surrealistic. Case point for the abstract lyrics is certainly "Oh Lord, Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me". Every song is a winner also, this is a rare album that you can play start to finish without hitting the skip button. The high point of the album probably is the final track, "Passions of a Man", which deconstructs - no, demolishes any sort of set rhythm. As much an essential as any of Mingus' more well-known classics.
I collected all the above reviews and put them together here just to show that I am not alone in rating this music...especially in this remastering with bonus tracks... worthy the highest possible praise. Buy it.