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What's New on WDCB... with Paul Abella

March 7th, 2022

This week's review features our Spring Pledge Drive Early Bird Special (for donations of $120 ($10 a month through the Encore Club)... WDCB's exclusive “Mingus Then & Now” 2-CD package pairing a Mingus classic with a new 2022 all-star project celebrating his iconic jazz compositions!

Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um (Columbia)

By 1959, Charles Mingus had already spent time with Lionel Hampton and Duke Ellington’s bands, had been in the legendary edition of the Red Norvo Trio alongside Tal Farlow, and had played with Charlie Parker, Art Tatum, Max Roach and Hampton Hawes, among others. He’d already recorded at least three legitimate classics (Pithecanthropus Erectus, East Coasting and The Clown), and more besides. He’d already had a crack band together for a while with Horace Parlan (piano), Dannie Richmond (drums), Jimmy Knepper (trombone) and Shafi Hadi (saxophones) among the members. So, it should come as no surprise that Mingus Ah Um, Mingus’ debut for Columbia Records, would be a masterpiece. From the first notes of “Better Git It In Your Soul,” it’s clear that you’re going to be listening to something special. The hits just keep coming, too. There is simply nothing less than a brilliant tune on this one, and simply put, every serious Jazz collection needs a copy of Mingus Ah Um.

Blue Moods – Myth & Wisdom (Posi-Tone)

Posi-Tone Records has put together an impressive stable of artists, both for albums as leaders, and for collective efforts featuring the label’s stars in varying ensembles. The latest of these is Blue Moods and their album Myth & Wisdom, which celebrates the Charles Mingus centennial this year, and the Charles Mingus songbook. The band that’s been assembled is impressive: Diego Rivera on tenor saxophone, Art Hirahara or David Kikoski on piano duties, Boris Kozlov playing bass, and drummer Joe Strasser. As WDCB’s resident Mingus nut, I was excited for this one, and it doesn’t disappoint. They’ve picked out songs that run the gamut, from no-brainers (“Better Git It In Your Soul”) to somewhat famous (“Nostalgia in Times Square,” “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love”) to some less obvious choices (“Portrait,” “Tonight at Noon”) and at least one song that made me do a double take when I saw it on the track listing (“Pithecanthropus Erectus”). They’ve succeeded in putting together a program that will please the Mingus fans, and hopefully introduce Mingus’ music to some new ears, too!

McAninch Arts Center