Mingus: Oh Yeah (Atantic 8122-75359-2)
So...given that youve - proudly - proclaimed
that youre not gonna review anything here that already
has a wide current audience...exactly why are you - now
- bothering with a (relatively) well-known album by one
of the - undoubted - greats of modern jazz?
Allright...fair question - that is, if (and, its a big
if) the - undoubted - fans of modern jazz have already
given said album a fair shake.
Which...they bloody-well havent!
Hence this review. Now, Im no jazz expert...let
alone familiar w/the entire works of one Charles Mingus...and,
so - please accept this review as one wake-up call for
said experts...and, a high-sign for the rest
of us...who are busily trawling through the (vast) recorded
works of jazz...looking for those weird beasts that (easily)
speak to the rest of the modern musical world...and can
help us in our indefatigable search for coherent terrains
beyond the easy reach of todays generic constraints...
Cause this is one such.
Speaking in tongues - and driving a small band into what
became (perhaps) the finest avant-garde R&B
session ever recorded - here, Mingus (ably abetted by
the great Roland Kirk & a brilliant rhythm section)
- cooked up a geninely unique brew. Within a year or two,
sadly, such - overt - R&B references would be considered
passe...hence (in part) the uniqueness of this album.
But, we should also consider here the (inveterate) snobbery
of yer mainstream jass critics...
Because said dickheads - and I use this Australianism
advisedly - generally had nothing but contempt for this
album...and this attitude has been reflected,
to some extent, in all the subsequent informed
commentary I have encountered re same...
Whereas me, I reckon this is - by far - the closest the
avant-garde ever got to the great Ray Charles
and, if the wider audience had (ever) broken through the
shitful snobbery of the bloody critics...this couldve
well been the album that broke Mingus to a (genuinely)
Instead, it was buried...and is (still) referred to as
if the damn thing - despite (finally) being good
- should only be handled via insulated tongs...
Fuck that...cause this thing is a monster. And, ifn
you cant get a real grip on free jazz...but
can easily handle free-blowin R&B - then, this
(truly) is the Mingus for you. And - irrespective - some
serious reassessment of this one is damn-well overdue,
John Henry Calvinist