My good friend DOMA TORNADOS sent this little gem my way today.
I am a big Jazz fan and I really rate MINGUS but I can’t remember the last time I looked at my Jazz collection. Honestly, though, I cannot recall this album!
CHARLES MINGUS -CUMBIA & JAZZ!
I have not had time to listen to all of it yet but what I have heard is brilliant.
Here’s a little review I nicked from somewhere:
“Considering that this is Mingus’ last album of any importance what a gem its’ title track is and what a tragedy that his life was cut short when he could have produced more great music!
Cumbia And Jazz Fusion is a 28 minute epic split into several parts and first up is an extended latin percussion intro with bells and shakers and jungle bird sounds. A steady bongo keeps the beat and a couple of simple catchy lines are introduced and improvised on, “aha ha Cumbia a Cumbia” we hear from Mingus. The single bongo is replaced by a fuller percussional sound and Mingus enters with a 2 chord riff, the rather silly lines continue and are passed around the instruments but then, suddenly, the band joins in picking up on the 2 chord vamp and bringing it slowly to the boil in classic Mingus style. This is a big band.
Who else but Mingus could have merged these various elements so convincingly?
Unfortunately one becomes aware that Mingus’ bass technique is beginning to let him down as he struggles to stay on top of the beat (this due to his, as yet undiagnosed, fatal illness). How distressing it must have been for the man. Fortunately he didn’t need his technique to compose, only to play.
A lush section follows and some piano-pyrotechnics which make way for a new section introducing another Latin groove and a riff every bit as simple and funky as the first one. It gathers the musicians around it and starts to build again. Bop themes and percussion outbursts take turns, presumably the Cumbia and the Jazz in the act of Fusion, before we are treated to a little scat from Mingus helped out by other band members. A bass solo follows and right up until the final fade Mingus weaves in and out, well up in the mix like it was a concerto for double bass.
There are some problems here and there where Mingus is a little unsteady but this joyous piece is a resounding success and an admirable way to bow out. To the Mingus fan this is indispensable stuff.
Charles Mingus is simply one of the greatest and most original jazz composers of all time. Over-shadowed by the likes of Parker, Davis and Coltrane he might not be a household name but he made a large number of fine albums from the mid-50s’ to the late-70s’, all of them have something interesting to say, many of them are classics, let’s call him a genius shall we?”.