2.20.2009

Charles Mingus: Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus

Everybody from Elton John to Tom Jones has released a remix album, making them as ubiquitous (and unnecessary) as blogs and tattoos.

But what happened back in the days when the innovators of remixing were still crawling around with diapers full of poop?

Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus is one answer to that question. Mingus had proven his musical genius by 1963, so he decided to go back with a new band and revisit some of his earlier ideas.

Music: 5 EPFL library cards out of a possible 5
I'll be the first to admit I'm biased when it comes to Mingus. There has never been another jazz musician who rocked as hard as Mingus did. The man's music is as energetic and exciting as anything Zeppelin or Sabbath or (enter your favorite rock band here) ever did.

You might ask, "Chuck, why would you say that Mingus -- a man who didn't much care for rock music -- rocked?"

Making music that rocks has nothing to do with making rock music. The latter is a genre, and most of the music within that genre is actually pretty lame. The former is a state of mind that transcends all genres, and occurs when the musicians have completely let go and let their wildness take over.

This music is wild. These ideas were already explored on some of Mingus' greatest albums, but Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus is still unique and original. The band is on fire, the arrangements are amazing, and the music is as adventurous as nearly anything the man recorded.

Packaging: 4 EPFL library cards out of a possible 5
When I was a kid and was home sick from school one day, my mom brought home a novel called This School Is Driving Me Crazy by Nat Hentoff. I liked the book and read it several times, but it wasn't until I began earnestly exploring jazz that I learned Hentoff was like the Lester Bangs of jazz. The liner notes here are pretty much what I'd expect from Hentoff writing about Mingus: a little overblown and a little melodramatic, but also passionate and enthusiastic and informed and deeply respectful of both Mingus the man and Mingus the musician.

Hentoff wrote, "(Mingus) is one of the most alive men I have ever known, and it is this commitment to living rather than only existing which makes his music so energizing and so insistently provocative." No words could nail the music on this record better than these.

A few more pictures would've been nice; otherwise, this is a strong package.

Listen if you like: powerful music, passionate music, wild music, alive music, music that rocks.

If it were food, it'd be: The first thought that came to mind was "a can of Red Bull," but that analogy captures such a small part of the album's greatness that it's actually a disservice. Really, this album is like a giant meal that encompasses every imaginable flavor, and leaves you excited for more. I've never actually eaten a meal that tastes like this music. Readers? Any ideas?

1 comment:

The Mad Hatter said...

Dude, for me, Mingus is like a five course meal at the most expensive (and duly deserved) restaurant where everything I eat and drink is completely exquisite. I don't eat too much; I don't eat too little; it's just perfect.