Friday, 22 October 2010


I picked up a Charles Mingus CD last week (Charles Mingus "In A Soulful Mood").
And I just can't get enough of it!
It's a strange wee confection. First of. I was a bit wary of the term "Soulful" - too many "smooth" connotations. Charles Mingus was, if anything, a troubled soul, a revolutionary one: musically and politically (with a small "p") and he was a bit of an "angry" soul. So what would a collection of Mingus "soulful" sounds be like?
Well. Not quite as angry as normal, but this is no "late night relaxing" CD. It's still pretty charged stuff.
The CD is culled from two sessions he did for the Candid label in 1960 and actually seems to be stuff that was omitted from the first two albums for Candid.
The opener "Bugs (take 3)" is pure bebop. It's the sort of music that very seldom fails to bring a smile to my face and make me feel that much better. It's full of colour and speed, but the colours are the ones reflected in wet pavements on a busy street at night and the speed is the speed of people going to and fro about their lives. Paul Bley on piano on this one, and it's a side of him I've seldom heard. Joy.

There's also a wonderful 13 minute take on the old standard "Stormy Weather". This starts with about one bar of solo bass, before Eric Dolphy comes in for about a four minute solo on alto sax that is one of the most minimalist and heartfelt I've ever heard. Dolphy doesn't paint a picture of "stormy weather" and misery ahead - he just provides the dots for the listener to slowly join together to get their own picture. I've got to be honest and say I don't like Eric Dolphy's later "free" jazz, but this is fantastic stuff. After his solo the boss takes over for an equally minimal bass solo before the trumpet and drum join them to round it off.
Recorded in 1960 this track is pure 1930's depression America - dole queues and soup kitchens. Given the current climate the BBC could use this as background music for the news when Robert Prseton's on giving us the details of the latest cuts!
Best 50p I've spent in ages.

No comments: