So how am I doing on this jazz stuff? Have I earned my stripes yet? By now there’s been a couple of Miles Davis albums, a couple from Charlie Byrd, plus Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington in there. And not once did I do the “Fast Show” nice reference.
Truth told, there’ve been some moments of real beauty so far. Yes, sometimes it’s taken a couple of listens to grab me and I’d still prefer some delta blues or brutal drum n’ bass, but it’s been good. Yet none of what I listened to so far came close to this.
The album jumps styles with vigour, from the wildly experimental opener “Track A – Solo Dancer” through to the almost symphonic trombone growl and varying tempo of “Track B – Duet Solo Dancers”. As it continues, that orchestral experience it captures grows and builds, and this is an album you need to let go and let yourself get swept up by.
As an album, it was created as a ballet, it featured an 11-piece band with each performance discernibly audible and potent in the mix, and was the first album to employ studio overdubbing, which goes to show how much effort Mingus threw at what is recognised as one of the greatest jazz albums ever. Hell, I may even listen to it more than once.