Charles Mingus

Epitaph

> > Jul 2009

Charles Mingus - Epitaph
By Kevin JonesOne of the most important figures in the dauntingly immense world of jazz, Charles Mingus no doubt left behind many unrecorded gems after his passing in 1979, and Epitaph, at the time of its premier performance a decade later, was considered one for the heavens. Gathering together a 30-piece collection of the legendary composer's compatriots and unabashed musical descendants, conductor Gunther Schuller leads the charge on this debut recorded presentation of a work Sue Mingus described as having been written for her late husband's tombstone. Oscillating between smooth, sauntering, sax-led moods, frenetic percussive breakout runs and brief moments of gripping tension, this two-hour-plus, 500-page opus is a striking exhibition of organizational complexity. The dynamic nature of Epitaph's individual parts leaves each orchestral section a fair bit of room to improvise and embellish, sparking many charming passages throughout. Add to this the resulting sense of admiration shown on the humbled players' faces as they fall under the cool spell of fellow soloists and you begin to get a more complete sense of what Mingus's compositional prowess meant to both commoners and jazz greats alike
(Eagle Eye)
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