eMusic Review 0
After being nominated for a handful of Grammys on their past studio records, the Mingus Big Band finally captured the award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album of 2011 with this, their first live outing, recorded on New Year’s Eve in 2008. Aside from the holiday, the evening’s program was centered around Mingus songs that were popular a half-century before — an easy exercise, since the late ’50s were an astonishingly fertile period in the late composer-bassist’s career. Organized and guided by his spouse, Sue Mingus, the band’s consistently high standard stems from its ability to cut to the chase and unearth the palpable essence of one or another of Mingus’s many virtues. On the opening “Gunslinging Bird” (for Charlie Parker, of course), the band ripples with the ominous sense of imminent explosion that was a Mingus trademark; yet even when they hit a toe-tapping groove, Mingus’s distinctive charts have the horns surging and submerging like cavorting dolphins.
The ultra-obscure “New Now Know How” (so-called because of its thorny time signature) is highlighted by a high-wire trumpet squall between Randy Brecker and Kenny Rampton. The title of “Bird Calls” describes the music exactly, with the horns in a squawk,… read more »