Played by a classy nonet at Berlin’s Philharmonie hall, at its best this set of Charles Mingus material is full of the exultant, forward-charging energy of its composer
This centenary year of Charles Mingus’ birth deserves to be a landmark celebrated everywhere creative music thrives, not just in the jazz world that has lauded him since the 1940s. A composing genius and double bass virtuoso, the LA-raised original disrupted jazz insularity with a repertoire that ran from New Orleans street-struts, to hard-swinging blues and bebop, jazz/classical splicings from Stravinsky, Bartók and Duke Ellington and played and spoken themes echoing his civil-rights campaigning.
Mingus also urged every artist he came across to be uncompromisingly themselves – even if it meant his own improvising lineups might wrench his highly wrought materials into unpredictable shapes. Down the years, that legacy has galvanised bands from South Africa’s Brotherhood of Breath, to the Charlie Haden and Carla Bley Liberation Music Orchestra, the UK’s Loose Tubes, and countless more.
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