This live date, recorded January 16, 1959 at Nonagon Art Gallery in New York City features John Handy on alto sax, Booker Ervin on tenor sax, Richard Wyands on piano, Dannie Richmond on drums, and Charles Mingus on bass. It's a chance to hear Mingus the bassist and Mingus the leader in action with a small group; the recording quality is excellent.
This album is unique in Mingus' enormous catalog. As the title indicates, the famous bassist takes to the ivories solo to give life to his dazzling improvisational art. At first it seems odd to hear Mingus without one of his trademark interactive and exploratory ensembles. But the sensibility that he brings to this collection of piano pieces bears all the signs of the composer's genius…
Of all the titles in the Impulse! 2 on 1 series, this volume may be the very finest. It pairs two indisputable classic Charles Mingus titles – both of which have endured for nearly 50 years – that were cut during the same year. While The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady was recorded on January 20, 1963, the recording that ended up as Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus was begun that very day, but not finished until September. The former album is rightly regarded as one of (if not the) Mingus' masterpieces for its use of colors, tonalities, expansive harmonies, and the juxtaposition of numerous aspects of the jazz tradition – from Ellingtonian swing to hard bop, to West Coast and new-thing jazz – employing a vocal chorus, and even Latin and flamenco flourishes in a single conceptual work played by an 11-piece orchestra.
This recently-discovered release is certainly the jazz find of the year so far in 2007. In much the way that John Coltrane/Thelonious Monk Live at Carnegie Hall and, to some extent, the live Coltrane document One Up, One Down, Cornell 1964 brings a major piece of jazz history into focus in the best way possible–with an actual recording that documents it.
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. I have almost everything available by Mingus and had passed on this because I didn't think I needed yet more versions of some of his classics by what seems like an unlikely crew in tow. How wrong I was!!!! Mingus is apparently playing with a mic on his bass and you can easily hear what a monster he is, how sublime he can be, and it is totally thrilling. Coryell and Catherine have their flurry of notes thing going but it does not come off as showing off or dull fusion riffing. They - and the rest of the band- sound as if they were meant to be, really listening and bringing something wonderfully new to Mingus music.