Music News 4/28/22



Oumou Sangare, TIMBUKTU (World Circuit, $15.98) – Mali’s “Songbird of Wassoulou” has released transcendent albums over many years, always putting women’s issues up front. Timbuktu is another fantastic offering, mixing traditional ngoni and balafon, drums, percussion, and call-and-response choruses, with a new element: subtle acoustic and electric slide guitars. 


Trombone Shorty, LIFTED (Blue Note, $14.98) – Trombone Shorty (Troy Andrew)’s first album in five years is dedicated to his late mother—as he says, she “lifted me up my whole life.” The cover shows her with a young Troy at a second line. Shorty is now a New Orleans institution, who combines its sounds (funk, gospel, street rhythms, Mardi Gras Indian chants, and second lines) with modern lyrics, melodies and beats. 


WEINBERG: SONATAS FOR VIOLIN SOLO (ECM, $18.98) – Long a champion of the music of Mieczysław Weinberg (1919 – 1996), violinist Gidon Kremer plays sonatas from 1964, 1967, and 1979. Kremer compares these solo works to those written by Bach and Bartók. 





Last Friday, April 22, was the 100th birthday of the bassist, composer, and bandleader Charles Mingus. 

New releases celebrate his achievements, and the continuing influence of his tunes, his bass playing, his arrangements, and his skill in assembling titanic ensembles. 




Charles Mingus, THE LOST ALBUM FROM RONNIE SCOTT’S (Resonance, 3 CDs, $30.98) – Hot sets at the famous London club, recorded August 14-15, 1972, but never released, the tapes were preserved in the Mingus archives for nearly fifty years. 

The Mingus band included Charles McPherson, alto sax; and new members Bobby Jones, tenor sax; a 19-year-old Jon Faddis, trumpet; John Foster, piano; and Roy Brooks, drums. 

The set has ovver two-and-a-half hours of music, with epic workout on “Orange Was the Color of Her Dress, Then Silk Blues,” “Mind-readers’ Convention in Milano,” and “Fables of Faubus.” There are also three of the iconic jazz standards that Mingus liked end sets with: “Ko-Ko,” “Pops” (aka “When the Saints Go Marching In”), and “Air Mail Special.” 

As usual with Resonance productions, there is a deluxe booklet with interviews with Mingus and Charles McPherson, author Fran Lebowitz, an overview by Mingus biographer Brian Priestley, and appreciations by
bassists Christian McBride and Eddie Gomez. 


Two Reissues 


Charles Mingus, CHARLES MINGUS PRESENTS CHARLES MINGUS (Candid, $16.98) – Remastered reissue of the 1961 album with a powerhouse quartet: Eric Dolphy (alto sax, f and bass clarinet), Ted Curson (trumpet), and Dannie Richmond (drums). The album contains “Original Faubus Fables” (complete with the important lyrics), “Folk Forms No. 1,” and “All the Things You Could Be By Now If Sigmund Freud’s Wife Was Your Mother.” 


TRIO (MINGUS THREE) (Jubilee, 2 CDs, $25.98) – Recorded in New York, July 9, 1957, with Hampton Hawes, piano and Dannie Richmond, drums. There are notes by Nat Hentoff, and a CD of outtakes. 




Harry Skoler, LIVING IN SOUND: The Music of Charles Mingus (Sunnyside, $17.98) – An all-star group, led by clarinetist (and Berklee College of Music professor) Harry Skoler, plays Mingus: Kenny Barron, piano; Nicholas Payton, trumpet; Christian McBride, bass; Jonathan Blake, drums; Jazzmeia Horn, vocals; plus a string quartet. The arrangements are by Darcy James Argue, Ambrose Akinmusire, and Fabian Almazan, and the songs include “Goodbye Porkpie Hat,” “Peggy’s Blu Skylight,” and “Moves.” 


John Hébert, SOUNDS OF LOVE (Sunnyside, $17.98) – Bassist John Hébert assembled another all-star group to play Mingus and Mingus-inspired tunes: Fred Hersch, piano (who’d studied with Mingus’s pianist, Jaki Byard); Tim Berne, alto sax; Taylor Ho Bynum, trumpet; Ches Smith, drums and percussion. 

Recorded live in 2013, the songs include Mingus’s “Duke Ellington’s Sounds of Love,” and “Remember Rockefeller at Attica,” and Hébert’s “Frivolocity”—based on Mingus’s “Sue’s Changes.”