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

Album no. 39/1001

Here we bloody go. It’s back to the JAZZ SHACK.  

Charles Mingus was a double bassist – and something of a pioneer for those in the know. He was also known for his (not so) occasional violent outbursts on stage, sometimes directed at other members of the band, sometimes at the audience. Sounds like a cool guy.

Be warned. One song on this album goes for 18 minutes. I don’t care that it’s split up into 4 different ‘modes’ – it’s still far too long for a song.

Have you listened to this album before?

CL: No. No Charlie Mingle for me. Look, we’ve all seen my previous listening experiences with jazz up to this point (here, here and here), so you could maybe say I’m not that stoked to listen to this.

NK: Old mate Axel Carrington used to bang on about Charles Mingus, but I have never heard him.

CL: So did Howard Moon.

NK: I understand that you haven’t met Axel, but that’s basically what I said.

Standout track

CL: Ok. The first track ‘Track A – Solo Dancer’ is the best. I paused it mid-way through to go get a cup of tea, then when I came back it sort of felt like it was assaulting my ears. But only because there were a lot of different things going on. If you can hack it, give ‘Mode D’ a listen as well – it’s totally fine to skip to the 12 minute mark. That’s where the good stuff is on that song.

NK: Do you know what, I much prefer this to  bloody Bill Evans and his mates. Yes, the tracks are long. Yes it’s jazzy as hell, but everyone involved is playing the same song at all times, which you couldn’t say about Sunday At The Village Vanguard’.  I agree with you: the middle is the best. I feel like it would be against the spirit of jazz to be more specific than that.

CL: Get stuffed. You know nothing about jazz. You fear jazz. I thought the point was for everyone to play something different then it magically comes together? THE MAGIC OF JAZZ!

NK: I have heard all the jazz people magically come together exactly once: at 3.50 here. Anyway, I pick ‘Track C – Group Dancers’ as my favourite, but you sort of have to listen to the first two immediately before it if you want it to make any sense.

When would be the best time to listen to this?

CL: LISTEN TO THE WHOLE THING IN ONE GO – this isn’t me saying it’s awful, listen to it quickly to get it out of the way, I’m saying it should be a one time, solid experience. Like, don’t put this on your shuffle.

NK: I strongly agree, which is pretty much a first. This is a single piece, and if you listen to bits and pieces I can’t imagine it’s going to make much sense. With that said, I think you should listen to it when the weather outside is frightful.

Why has this album been included on the list?

CL: On ‘Track B – Duet Solo Dancers’ some of the horns sound a lot like someone singing? Oh wait, maybe someone’s sort of singing through the trumpet? I don’t know, but it’s a pretty neat sound.

NK: First of all, shoutout to Charles Mingus for being a bass player. Most of the jazz dudes have been on piano or a horn, but not Mingus.

CL: I thought he was playing a trumpet on the cover. But no. He’s just lighting a pipe.

NK: CLASSIC MINGUS. Anyway, this album is a single composition, which is the first of it’s kind we have encountered I think. I know a couple of the Frank Sinatra records were based around heartbreak, but this is essentially one track that goes for the length of an album. I don’t know enough about our mate Charles, but you wonder about the impact he had on concept albums and the length of compositions going forth.

Will you be listening again?  

CL: I think this is definitely one of the most interesting jazz albums we’ve heard so far. This is not saying I enjoyed listening to it. Because I don’t think I did? My mind was sort of blown a bit. There was a lot going on. It’s not for the faint hearted, that’s what I’d say.

NK: This is more interesting, ambitious and coherent than some of the jazz we’ve had. I will give this another go.

Rating

CL: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums. Oh… it’s on the cusp of 3.

NK: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

Listen to The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.

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