In 2022, the jazz world celebrated the centenary of the birth of one of the brightest jazz giants – bassist and composer Charlie Mingus. Exactly on his birthday, April 22, Sunnyside Records released a tribute album Living in Sound: The Music of Charles Mingus dedicated to his memory.
The soul and initiator of this project is Harry Scoler, a professor at the famous Berkeley College, a music critic and writer and, of course, an acting clarinetist with a great career behind him. Once upon a time, back in 1974, in Syracuse, New York, young Harry discovered the music of Mingus in the master Moves’ album that year. She made a huge impression on Scoler, he became a loyal fan of Mingus’ work, read his autobiography Beneath the Underdog with great interest. Many years later, in 2018, Scoler came up with the idea of recording an album of works performed by Mingus and shared his dream with saxophonist Walter Smith III. The latter agreed to produce the project and showed real miracles in this capacity. Just look at the composition of the recording participants, see what stars he managed to collect: for the piano Kenny Barron, on bass – Christian McBride, Nicholas Peyton plays on the trumpet, Jonathan Blake plays behind drums, in one of the tracks sings the incomparable Jazzmeya Horn, and an excellent string quartet was also invited. But that’s not all. When the program was prepared, Walter invited equally brilliant masters – Darcy James Argy, Ambrose Akinmuzir and Fabian Almazan – to write arrangements. They were granted absolute creative freedom in their work. By August 2021, everything was ready, and the entire composition of the project participants recorded this program in two days.
The result is in front of you, and anyone who hears Living in Sound: The Music of Charles Mingus can appreciate the great work of such a bright team. I was bribed by this result from the first track, because the album began with my favorite play by Mingus (and I’m not alone in this) Goodbye Pork Pie Hat. The Skoler clarinet sounds great in this thing, and the strings adequately support the elegantly solemn atmosphere of the composition arranged by Almazan. Peggy’s Blue Skylight is very good for Barron and especially McBride, who had to act as if as Mingus himself. He, along with Scoler and strings, decorated Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love, a play that Mingus dedicated to his favorite jazz composer. The 1971 song Remember Rockefeller at Attica Mingus, who often responded to various events in American life, was written in the wake of the riot of prisoners in Attica prison and the behavior of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller in this regard. Nicholas Peyton’s trumpet and Harry Scoler’s clarinet masterfully convey the nervous and disturbing atmosphere of this play. In Moves, Peyton and Horn demonstrate a spectacular duo of trumpet and human voice, and Invisible Lady is very good at experienced Barron. The album ends with a play by Scoler himself Underdog, which looks like the author’s signature under his work.
The album is powerful, and I won’t be surprised if we see it among the Grammy nominees, or maybe it will bring its creators the Golden Gramophone itself.
© & (p) 2022 Sunnyside Records
9 tks / 65 мин
(Harry Skoler – cl; Kenny Barron – p; Christian McBride – b; Johnathan Blake – dr; Jazzmeia Horn – voc; Nicholas Payton – tp; Megan Gould, Tomoto Omura – vi; Karen Waltuch – viola; Noah Hoffeld – cello;)
Link provided by Mixed Media