(All Album Reviews by Burgess Penguin)
Charles Mingus: Upright Bass
Jackie McClean: Alto Sax
J.R. Monterose: Tenor Sax
Mal Waldron: Piano
Willie Jones: Drums
I'll never forget first hearing this album at age 6, even for my newly forming mind it was one of the most overwhelming, strange, sometimes scary but ALWAYS interesting and compelling experiences, between the melody lines that stick in your head for days, the wit, the dynamics and everything else.
Years later, it STILL has that same effect on me, only now I can get my brain around it!
The epic length title cut is a 3-part musical depiction of the rise and fall of a fictitious species of human. It's amazing to me how Mingus and his chosen musicians were able to convey so much vivid emotion and narrative with just sounds and no visuals or words. Even more amazing is how the musicians are able to blur the line between composed and improvised passages. It's fascinating to see how Mingus' concepts were beginning to take shape here in 1956.
"A Foggy Day--" lightens the mood a bit with the musicians producing sirens, foghorns, taxi horns, groaning boats and much more, some may find it annoying but this Owl actually finds it oddly charming in this particular instance.
"Profile of Jackie" is a very brief but very potent vehicle for Jackie McLean to spin forth his unique alto sound and beautiful melody lines.
"Love Chant" can STILL hold me in rapt attention between its insistent low-register piano figure by Mal Waldron and the horns alternating playful and somber lines, with Willie Jones just playing his butt off
All throughout, Mingus himself asserts his simultaneously gruff and humorous muse through his bass, NOBODY sounded like him before or since.
Want a good place to start with Mingus, I highly recommend this!
Just one complaint, BRING BACK THE ORIGINAL ABSTRACT COVER ART!!