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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 beer.

Mingus Big Band '93 Nostalgia in Times Square (the review)
Scott and Mark had not heard the CD before, but they had seen the band live in New York.

Nostalgia in Times Square
G.It says in the notes the band started in 1991, and you saw them in, when, 1994?
M.It was June of '94 - a year ago.
G.What was it like?
S.Well, let's see, it in was a place called...
S.Fez, that's right. It was in the basement of a restaurant.
M.Yeah, 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 velvety...
S.Very 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!
M.Then the next night we saw the Yankees play the Mariners.
G.So which was better, the Mingus band or the Yankees game?
S.That's not a fair question. You're asking a couple of diehard Mariners fans.
M.Yeah, you're asking the wrong guys.
J.Does this CD capture the spirit of what you guys saw live?
S.This looks like a different band than we saw. They had a different trombone player. And this cut sounds more traditional that what we heard.
M.Yeah, it was pretty experimental. Look at this photo. Half of them couldn't even get their eyes open.
G.Well, they probably took it during the day.
M.Exactly. I remember the way they'd interpolate two different songs, mixing them together. They didn't even know how it would turn out.
S.I really remember was "Ecclusiastics" - that one really knocked me out.
G.Let's put it on....

J.That first cut was pretty straightforward.
G.But then they get into some pretty good stuff. There's a really wide variety of arrangements by the band members.
M.Right. You got the feel they could play the same song every night and it would have a different feel each night.
S.Pretty tasty tenor solos here. Wow - this takes me back!
G.Yeah, Craig Handy and John Stubblefield duke it out.
S.More like mingus it out.
G.There are couple of Mingus' tributes to Duke on this CD.
J.It's really churning now. The trombones are holding it all up.

Duke Ellington's Sound of Love
S.You know, this Weizenberry tastes like I should be pouring it on my pancakes.
G.It's a summer beer. We should be drinking it outside, instead of lemonade.
M.Deck beer.
J.This cut is great.
G.I thought this CD would be more like re-creations of Mingus recordings. But it's very fresh and new. They're really complex tracks.
J.But they're not stepping on each other. I can't think of anything bad to say about it.
S.Well, there's the cover art...
M.And the photo...

Mingus Fingers
G.I miss hearing Mingus in the mix, yelling.
S.One thing you can say about Mingus is he had big hands.
G.Big hands, big ego, big talent.
J.Big instrument.
M.And a big bass too.
S.You don't hear many good trombone solos anymore.
J.Are you saying this is a good trombone solo?
S.Yeah - you don't like it?
J.Sounds all right.
M.J finally finds something he doesn't like about the CD.
J.It's not that I don't like it, but it not that inspired.
G.Yeah, pretty straightforward.
J.Listen to those vibes. This is Joe Locke's only appearance on the album. You should pay attention to it.
G.Hmmm. Vibes are not an instrument I associate with Mingus, but it fits.
J.They're not mixed in as well as the trombone, though.
G.It's harder for a vibes player to lean into the mike.

Weird Nightmare
S.That's strange. The didgeridoo is not an instrument I associate with Mingus....

Copyright © 1995 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.