The Jam Session: Mingus Big Band
On a warm summer afternoon, Glenn Brooks, Jason Staczek, Mark Oppfelt
and Scott Boggan listened to music
accompanied by Thomas Kemper Weizenberry, a raspberry flavored wheat
Mingus Big Band '93 Nostalgia in Times Square
Scott and Mark had not heard the CD before, but they had seen the
band live in New York.
Nostalgia in Times Square
GIt says in the
notes the band started in 1991, and you saw them in, when, 1994?
MIt was June of
'94 - a year ago.
GWhat was it
SWell, let's see,
it in was a place called...
right. It was in the basement of a restaurant.
MYeah, the Time
Cafe. In the Village. Like a '50s retro diner/cafe. First you walked
through the restaurant, then the lounge, then down a long hallway where
someone was taking tickets, and then down this long dark set of stairs
and you emerged into this large cavernous, low ceilinged, dark
SVery dark. It
had very much the atmosphere of a big group of friends. Part of it was
that the bandstand was a full as the audience. And, of course, they
start off and it's just this cacophonous blast!
MThen the next
night we saw the Yankees play the Mariners.
GSo which was
better, the Mingus band or the Yankees game?
SThat's not a
fair question. You're asking a couple of diehard Mariners fans.
asking the wrong guys.
JDoes this CD
capture the spirit of what you guys saw live?
SThis looks like
a different band than we saw. They had a different trombone player. And
this cut sounds more traditional that what we heard.
MYeah, it was
pretty experimental. Look at this photo. Half of them couldn't even get
their eyes open.
probably took it during the day.
remember the way they'd interpolate two different songs, mixing them
together. They didn't even know how it would turn out.
remember was "Ecclusiastics" - that one really knocked me out.
GLet's put it
JThat first cut
was pretty straightforward.
GBut then they
get into some pretty good stuff. There's a really wide variety of
arrangements by the band members.
MRight. You got
the feel they could play the same song every night and it would have a
different feel each night.
tenor solos here. Wow - this takes me back!
Handy and John Stubblefield duke it out.
SMore like mingus
GThere are couple
of Mingus' tributes to Duke on this CD.
churning now. The trombones are holding it all up.
Duke Ellington's Sound of Love
SYou know, this
Weizenberry tastes like I should be pouring it on my pancakes.
GIt's a summer
beer. We should be drinking it outside, instead of lemonade.
JThis cut is
GI thought this
CD would be more like re-creations of Mingus recordings. But it's very
fresh and new. They're really complex tracks.
JBut they're not
stepping on each other. I can't think of anything bad to say about it.
the cover art...
MAnd the photo...
GI miss hearing
Mingus in the mix, yelling.
SOne thing you
can say about Mingus is he had big hands.
GBig hands, big
ego, big talent.
MAnd a big bass
SYou don't hear
many good trombone solos anymore.
JAre you saying
this is a good trombone solo?
SYeah - you don't
MJ finally finds
something he doesn't like about the CD.
JIt's not that I
don't like it, but it not that inspired.
JListen to those
vibes. This is Joe Locke's only appearance on the album. You should pay
attention to it.
GHmmm. Vibes are
not an instrument I associate with Mingus, but it fits.
mixed in as well as the trombone, though.
GIt's harder for
a vibes player to lean into the mike.
The didgeridoo is not an instrument I associate with Mingus....