Charles Mingus “The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady” (1963)

Track Selection: Solo Dancer: Stop! Look! And Listen, Sinner Jim Whiney!

Artists

Rolf Ericson, Richard Williams (tp) Quentin Jackson (tb) Don Butterfield (cbtb, tu) Jerome Richardson (fl, ss, bars) Dick Hafer (fl, ts) Charlie Mariano (as) Jaki Byard (p) Jay Berliner (g) Charles Mingus (b, p) Dannie Richmond (d) recorded NYC, January 20, 1963

Music:

Mingus’s crowning achievement, his full-blooded reincarnation as the contemporary Ellington in this fully structured jazz orchestral work.  Mingus as composer, arranger, group leader and most important, creative artist. Individual improvisation – the cornerstone of modern jazz – is subsumed by structured group improvisation, in one continuous piece.The work sparkles with undiminished brilliance fifty years on.

Vinyl: HMV CLP 1694 Original UK release of US Impulse A35

Mono, UK first pressing by EMI, Hayes 1963, small Nipper on the HMV label. Excellent mastering and pressing, rich dynamic range does justice to the full production. Not to be confused with later reissues by ABC Impulse, which are sonically very weak.

The liner notes by Charles Fox are a must-read, providing an incisive insight into how and why Mingus’s music  works, and includes brief explanation of artistic intent by Mingus’s psychiatrist, named as one Dr Edmund Pollock. How very New York, to have your own shrink, and then boast about it on your records. Even at this stage in his career the record company still billed Mingus as “Charlie”. It may have been Charlie Parker, but it’s Charles Mingus. You don’t have to be a psychiatrist to get the nuance.

The cover is yet another blow for the public health Campaign Against People Smoking on Record Covers, and it’s sister group, the Campaign Against Wearing Unsuitable Hats on Record Covers. Mingus’s very “beat” pipe and astrokan show us this truly majestic “cat with a hat”.

Collectors Corner

A great sounding  inexpensive vinyl musical treat. Not perhaps for the testosterone-fuelled I-must-have-it collector, to whom the latest hype – not even RARE! but SUPER RARE! – has them reaching for the phone to increase their credit card limit. This record isn’t “super rare”, it is just very good music. It is pressed beautifully and offers a great musical experience – pure Mingus, direct into the veins. And it didn’t cost much for an original. Well, not much for a UK original. About £15.

This is the thing. With records, price is an imperfect proxy for music quality. Record prices are driven by scarcity.The reason some records are scarce is because not many people at the time bought them. There are a lot of reasons why that might be so, not all of them good ones.  Just because a record is super rare and expensive doesn’t mean it’s any good. The secret is to find good music, however little or however much it costs.

And this is the other thing. For music to be “good”, its goodness first has to be appreciated. It’s about what you bring to the party. Like they say, money can buy you a bed, it can’t buy you a good nights sleep.

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7 thoughts on “Charles Mingus “The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady” (1963)

  1. Thankfully this one’s is pretty nice shape. I was curious about it because the Impulse and even the Speakers Corner reissue are hot and edgy in the treble–perhaps an intentional attempt to convey intensity, but not exactly audiophile. Was thinking the UK mastering might be cleaner (as Euro mastering is generally less hot than US). But, granting equipment differences, the balance is basically similar to my orange/black mono. Perhaps the Hoffman 45 tames the treble on this one.

  2. Charles “Fingus” Mingus. I still like Mingus Ah Um the best. I bought the Legacy edition of Mingus Ah Um last week on CD, which also features the album Mingus Dynasty. All tracks of both albums have been restored to their original length (the original LP tracks were edited) and there’s a ton of bonus material to enjoy. It was a ray of sunlight on an otherwise cloudy, rainy and altogether dreary Sunday 😉

  3. Thank you for answering my requests! Black Saint and the Sinner Lady sounds absolutely marvelous, even on an internet stream! That HMV pressing is magnificent. Hats off to LJC.

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