Mingus Big Band: Mingus Big Band Live at Jazz Standard

Mingus Big Band
Mingus Big Band Live at Jazz Standard
(Jazz Workshop, Inc./Jazz Standard)

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If you love a story that’s New York-centric, you’re in luck. Here’s a live recording of a New York-based jazz band in a local nightclub, paying tribute to jazz legend Charles Mingus, who made this city his home.

The Mingus Big Band brings us their live recording from New Year’s Eve 2008 at Jazz Standard, marking the band’s tenth recording, six of which have been nominated for Grammys.

With its rowdy composition, “Gunslinging Bird” opens the album. Almost like a band warming up, the drums, piano and horns all seem to compete with each other. But, maybe that’s appropriate since it was written by the “Angry Man of Jazz,” (a nickname Mingus was reportedly given because of his quick temper).

The second track, “New Now Know How,” with its quick, chasing sounds beckons the listener to keep up. The happy horns slip all around, up and down like a kid’s game of Follow the Leader. The drums provide a steady sidewalk of notes for the bass to plod along like a dumpy little kid keeping the beat. The piano then, takes its turn as an unassuming leader who gives the game a less brassy feel, if only for a moment, before the horns come blaring back to steal the show. While “E’s Flat Ah’s Flat Too” features quick and snappy vocals from a throaty Elvis Costello, “Cryin’ Blues” has a sad, but pretty whining trumpet.

Regardless of whether the track is slow or fast, cheerful or sad, all of the numbers on this album are intense and intricate and anything but humdrum.

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